McConnell hardly a fast reactor in the nuclear debate – parliamentary sketch
Scottish Herald 19th May 2006
Polly Toynbee says: To launch a political hot potato like a new nuclear energy policy at a CBI dinner was no way for Tony Blair to start this debate. Gifting business this apparent sweetener looked like the final scenes of Animal Farm: the other Labour animals were obliged to press their noses against the CBI window hoping to overhear this vital conversation as their leader caroused with the farmers. It was yet another example of his defiant take-it-or-leave-it, jumping-the-gun policy making. It is not a way to persuade doubters.Blair is at his happiest when pitched against lefties and greens while outfoxing Tories. What does the energy minister Malcolm Wicks think about his review being bounced? Bumping into him yesterday, he gave a wry shrug, rolled his eyes and says: “Well, he’s the prime minister …” But his review is, he says, less about nuclear power than other things.
Guardian 19th May 2006
Joan Ruddock writes:- THE PRIME MINISTER wants to persuade us that Britain has no alternative but to build a new generation of nuclear power stations. He is wrong. The focus on nuclear distorts the energy debate. Securing energy supplies and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are rightly at the top of the political agenda, but they have to be considered in relation to the whole energy mix and not just to the 8 per cent provided by nuclear power. The Prime Minister says the facts are stark, and contrasts past self-sufficiency in gas with future dependence on imports. He mentions the Middle East, Africa and Russia. Everything seems designed to alarm, yet the gradual decline of North Sea gas has been known for decades and British multinationals are investing heavily in new infrastructure to ensure imports come from diverse sources. Just a year ago, the Department of Trade and Industry announced a deal with Norway that “could secure up to 20 per cent of the UK’s future gas demand”. From Russia, we get about 1 per cent of our supply through the European interconnector. Regardless of the future of nuclear, Britain will have a very considerable demand for gas and most will be imported, in common with almost all our European neighbours.
Times 19th May 2006
Joan Ruddock and Elliot Morely have put down a new EDM on nuclear power
Tony Blair’s hopes of persuading the public that a new generation of nuclear power plants is the best way to plug the country’s energy gap suffered a setback yesterday after it emerged there have been 57 incidents at existing sites since 1997. They ranged from radiation leaks and machinery failure to contamination of ground water and employees’ clothes, and a fire. Eleven were serious enough to be classed as an “incident” or “serious incident” on international nuclear measures, according to the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who obtained the figures from the energy minister, Malcolm Wicks.
Guardian 19th May 2006
Daily Mirror 19th May 2006
Daily Mail 19th May 2006
Letter from Ms Catherine Mitchell and Ms Bridget Woodman. The prime minister’s decision to support new nuclear power plants shows appalling judgment. The level of financial and institutional resources needed to enable a new nuclear power programme will, without doubt, undermine investment in renewable energy technologies and efforts to reduce demand. Worse than that, just deciding to put such support measures in place will destroy attempts to build a sustainable energy system. After all, what would be the point of trying to bring forward new technologies to meet the UK’s need for energy when the government has decided to rig the market decades into the future so that huge chunks of nuclear generation can come on line? It will make it harder for the government to meet its stated energy goals: energy security will get worse because more gas will be needed in the short term before the nuclear plants are constructed; efforts to reduce fuel poverty will be hampered as demand reduction is undermined and electricity costs rise to subsidise the industry; and UK business will take a hit as we are locked out of the rapidly expanding global markets for renewable energy, which are far greater than the nuclear energy market.
FT 19th May 2006
Letter from Louis Armstrong, Royal Instution of Charterrd Surveyors. Tony Blair’s fast response to going nuclear before the knowing the outcome of his own energy review is in marked contrast to the government’s heel-dragging about the urgent need to reduce energy consumption.
Guardian 19th May 2006
Ken Livingstone says: A decision to commission a new generation of nuclear power stations would be the great misjudgement of our generation. Tony Blair and every politician who can influence this decision needs to appreciate that it would be an expensive and dangerous mistake to go back down the nuclear road, and one that will not even solve the stated problem of climate change.
Independent 19th May 2006
Concerns are growing that Bradwell could once again be home to an active nuclear power station.
Essex Chronicle 18th May 2006
The new environment secretary has been challenged to speak up for his department amid claims it has become marginalised in the nuclear power row. David Miliband came under pressure in questions from his Conservative shadow, Peter Ainsworth.
BBC 18th May 2006
Asked if there had been a discussion in Cabinet about nuclear energy, the PMOS said no. Asked when Cabinet had last been briefed about the cost of nuclear power stations, the PMOS said that the costs would obviously be a part of the energy review and it would look at the costs on all sides. As he had said throughout the week, there wasn’t any cost free option on the table. Asked to clarify whether would be a White Paper on nuclear energy, the PMOS said that the precise nature of the paper had yet to be finalised. There were not going to open ended options, but rather recommendations to be consulted on. We should wait and see how formally that was described.
Downing Street 18th May 2006
The SNP have accused the First Minister of a dereliction of duty over the stance of the Executive on the future of new nuclear power stations. It comes in the week when the Prime Minister signalled that the UK Government is likely to back a programme of building new stations.
Scotland Today 18th May 2006
West MPs and green campaigners yesterday hit back at Tony Blair for opening the way for a new generation of nuclear power stations. The Prime Minister is expected to announce formally the decision next month – and Hinkley Point in Somerset is one of the most likely locations for a new reactor.
Western Daily Press 18th May 2006
Families will face a ‘nuclear tax’ of £170 a year in order to pay for the new generation of atomic power stations outlined by Tony Blair. Details emerged as the Prime Minister faced a growing backlash from campaigners after he signalled that he will endorse the building of 20 new plants. Every household in Britain will have to pay £3,400 extra on its electricity bills over the next two decades to cover the cost of the new facilities and that of disposing of the spent radioactive waste.
Daily Mail 18th May 2006
A SURPRISE announcement from Prime Minister Tony Blair could put a controversial nuclear power proposal at Druridge Bay back on the map, fear former protesters.
Northumberland Today 18th May 2006
Tony Blair wants a new fleet of nuclear power plants to provide at least a fifth of the country’s power generation needs, say Whitehall insiders, favouring huge private investment to reverse nuclear’s projected decline. The prime minister will support building the plants on sites occupied by existing reactors, a move that will greatly speed construction, the Financial Times understands. However, a question mark remains over the affordability of such a large-scale investment programme and whether the private sector will want to shoulder the cost without economic incentives. Industry experts at KPMG, the professional services firm, calculated yesterday that maintaining nuclear’s share of the energy mix at current levels of 19 per cent would require the construction of 10 powerful 1,000 megawatt reactors by 2020, at a cost of about 15bn.
FT 18th May 2006
Gordon Brown is backing Tony Blair’s plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, even before the costs and benefits have been fully assessed. Sources close to the chancellor, who could be in No 10 Downing Street when the plants are built, said he agrees that a nuclear element must be part of the solution to Britain’s energy needs, as the prime minister made clear in a keynote speech on Tuesday.
Scottish Herald 18th May 2006
THE amount of radioactive waste stored in Scotland will quadruple in the next eight years, MSPs were told yesterday. The nuclear waste company Nirex said 14,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate radioactive waste was stored north of the Border currently – a figure that would rise to 54,000 cubic metres, by 2014 and 82,000 cubic metres by 2020.
Scotsman 19th May 2006
The short-term attention-span of politicians works against the long-term environmental thinking the issue of nuclear waste needs, says Rob Edwards. A commentary on nuclear waste, Nirex and nuclear power
Open Democracy 18th May 2006
Rob Edward’s website
New nuclear reactors planned to be built across Europe are not designed to withstand a 9/11-style aircraft attack by terrorists, a leaked report has revealed. The European pressurised water reactor (EPR) is capable of resisting an accidental crash by a five-tonne military fighter, says the French nuclear power company, EDF. But only by extrapolation does it argue that the reactor will also withstand the impact of a 250-tonne commercial airliner flown deliberately into it. This assumption, according to independent nuclear engineer, John Large, is “entirely unjustified”.
New Scientist 18th May 2006
Links to the leaked EdF document (in French) and John Large’s commentary
Rob Edward’s website
Doubts have been raised about how technically advanced Iran’s nuclear programme is, after it emerged Tehran may have used material from China.
BBC 19th May 2006
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday derided foes of Iran’s nuclear work as mentally disturbed, ignoring a fresh plea by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for all sides in the dispute to calm their rhetoric.
Reuters 18th May 2006
The United States today submitted a draft treaty to the Geneva disarmament conference on an international ban on producing fissile material such as uranium and plutonium for military purposes.
Interactive Investor 18th May 2006