The United Nations has accused the UK Government of suspicious actions over plans to develop its first nuclear power station in a generation in Somerset. Environmental inspectors have warned there are concerns about a lack of talks with neighbouring countries, including Ireland, over potential risks posed by the Hinkley Point C plant. The £16 billion nuclear facility could supply 5% of the UK’s energy needs and would be 150 miles from the Irish coast if built. A special UN environmental committee has written to the Government warning that it failed to notify countries which could potentially be affected by fallout or pollution from Hinkley, regardless of how unlikely an accident is. “The committee found that there was a profound suspicion of non-compliance,” the UN states. Vesna Kolar Planinsic, chair of the implementation committee on the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, said UK representatives will be called before a hearing in December to explain their actions. The committee said concerns have been raised over Hinkley by the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Norway. It found that, bar “informal exchanges” with the Irish Government and contacts with Austria following an official approach, Britain did not inform other neighbouring states of its plans. The UN said some countries maintained they could not exclude the significant adverse environmental impact of the proposed activity on their territory. Under UN and European rules, neighbouring countries must be contacted unless such risks can be ruled out. Ireland’s national trust An Taisce lost a judicial review in the UK courts last year over the Hinkley plan and is planning to seek an appeal next week. The UN letter to the UK’s Department for Communities and Local Government is expected to lend weight to the argument for a hearing in the Court of Appeal.
Heart 20th March 2014 read more »
PA 20th March 2014 read more »
Belfast Telegraph 20th March 2014 read more »
Letter from Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context to UK Dept Communities & Local Government available here:
An Taisce 20th March 2014 read more »
Britain’s 480-megawatt Hinkley Point B-7 nuclear plant resumed outputting power to the transmission network late on Wednesday, operator EDF Energy said in a market note on Thursday.The plant was taken offline for planned maintenance on February 14.
Reuters 20th March 2014 read more »
Letter: The bare bones of your front-page story “British nuclear power plant’s ‘Fukushima alert'” (19 March) are that as the result of a routine review of safety, EDF, unprompted and erring on the side of extreme caution, decided that the shingle beach at Dungeness could no longer provide adequate protection against flooding and that they should, to be perfectly safe, shut the reactor down while an additional flood- protection wall was built. This is the kind of decision that managers of technical systems take every day of the week. No crisis of any kind, no hint of a disaster, but news of this was apparently enough to send your environment editor into hysterics.
Independent 19th March 2014 read more »
Power supplier EDF Energy has rebuffed claims one of its nuclear plants may have been “unsafe” while it was updating its flood defences while reactors were switched off last May. For two months in 2013, the firm shut down the nuclear reactors at Dungeness B, located on Romney Marsh in Kent on the south east coast of England. Following Japan’s disaster at Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011 – a triple reactor blowout after the deadly tsunami – the energy firm reviewed its site safety. It told the nuclear regulator ONR that more work was necessary to meet higher safety standards and began a new flood defence wall around the site which is due to be finished this month. EDF said it is “not true” to suggest that there was an attempt not to communicate events at the site.
Energy Live 20th March 2014 read more »
North West lawyer, Roger Clayson, of commercial law firm, Taylors, has been appointed as a Mentor for a new scheme launched by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority aimed at helping SMEs to benefit from the opportunities offered by the industry. The NDA Estate Mentor Scheme will pair up businesses with experienced industry professionals who will offer support and guidance on winning work in the sector and is open to SMEs in, or looking to break into, the nuclear decommissioning supply chain. Roger, who joined Taylors earlier this year, brings a wealth of unrivalled experience to those taking part in the scheme; he is one of the North West’s leading legal advisers to the nuclear sector. He was formerly the Head of Legal at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and has advised on many projects in the nuclear industry, including the Sellafield and Dounreay PBO competitions and the restructuring of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. He is also very familiar with the contracts used in the decommissioning sector.
BDaily 20th March 2014 read more »
World leaders are coming together at The Hague in the Netherlands next week for the Nuclear Security Summit to talk about what Barack Obama called “one of the greatest threat to international security”: nuclear terrorism. That does sound eerie, doesn’t it? But when you think about it, what exactly is nuclear terrorism? Who are these nuclear terrorists? I’ve searched all over the Summit’s official website, but found no answer. What I did find is a lot of vague statements about securing nuclear materials so “they will not fall into the hands of terrorists”. Nations like the US and Russia have stockpiles of nuclear weapons that could end the existence of mankind many times over. But these countries are apparently not a threat. Instead, they get applauded for initiating a world summit on nuclear terrorism. For future reference: if you are a nation, having nuclear bombs makes you powerful. If you are not, having nuclear bombs or even nuclear material makes you a potential terrorist. With exception to North-Korea and Iran, of course, who are regarded as terrorists either way. The world will never be safe from nuclear terrorism if world leaders are doing everything in their power to keep the nuclear industry alive and expand their markets. If you really want to make sure terrorists don’t go nuclear, make sure there is no nuclear to go to.
Greenpeace 20th March 2014 read more »
Workers at a New Mexico nuclear waste storage facility that suffered an underground fire and radiation leak last month lack adequate safety training, oversight or a proper response plan for emergencies, a federal investigation has found. In a report released Friday, Energy Department investigators faulted employees at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, near Carlsbad, for failing to maintain equipment and failing to correct procedures regulators have faulted before — issues that became apparent when a truck caught fire Feb. 5 followed by a radiation leak Feb. 14.
Cumbria Trust 21st March 2014 read more »
With the government’s only permanent nuclear waste dump shuttered indefinitely by back-to-back accidents, officials are making plans to ship radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory to rural West Texas. The Department of Energy and the operator of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico say they have signed an agreement with Waste Control Specialists to truck the waste to its site in Andrews County.
Washington Post 20th March 2014 read more »
A drone built to improve monitoring of nuclear disaster sites such as Fukushima has won funding to help its creator commercialise the device. The quadcopter’s developer, Bristol University’s Dr James MacFarlane, claims it can provide a much more accurate picture of radiation at a nuclear site than current ground-based or helicopter-mounted equipment and even determine its precise chemical source.
Engineer 20th March 2014 read more »
A man and woman have been arrested after allegedly breaking into the nuclear submarine base at Faslane. It is alleged the pair broke into the high security military base in Argyll and Bute, where Britain’s trident submarines are stored, at around 4am on Tuesday. They have now been arrested and are currently in police custody. They are expected to appear at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Thursday.
STV 20th March 2014 read more »
The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) faces its most difficult crisis to date. Prices for EU Emission Allowances (EUAs) have fallen to record lows. Responsible for this decline in prices is the current surplus of allowances on the market, which is mainly due to the considerable import of certificates from emission reduction projects abroad (Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation). The surplus of emission allowances accrued during the second trading period of the EU ETS amounted to ap-proximately 1.8 billion allowances at the end of 2012 (EEA 2013), which were carried over into the third trading period (2013-2020).
Oko Institut 13th March 2014 read more »
Report: How can you build lots of renewables and keep the lights on without spending too much money? The wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine – so how do you get lots of power from renewable sources, and keep the lights on? An analysis by consultants Energynautics for Greenpeace based on European weather information for 2011 and data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests it is possible to get 77% of Europe’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030; through smart grids, demand management, gas backup and big changes in how our power grid works. The model suggests that by taking a European approach (rather than planning by country) and using a (relatively) new type of power cable the cost of integrating new renewables into the grid can be significantly cut.
Energy Desk 20th March 2014 read more »
At least one Ukrainian politician is wondering whether his nation should have kept its nuclear arsenal after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
BBC 20th March 2014 read more »
Coal plants are currently being squeezed out of the market by renewables. Plant operators then offer their electricity at low cost, and neighboring countries begin buying more from Germany. March is not providing any respite for the coal sector; it is one of the sunniest on record already. Over the past few days, for instance, solar has peaked at or above 20 GW, with domestic power demand only reaching around 70 GW. It is noteworthy that the effect of power exports on German coal power production is so consistently overlooked, but there is probably a political reason. Critics of the Energiewende can use the situation as an example of the transition’s failure. Likewise, proponents of the Energiewende can use the news to strengthen their call for a coal phaseout. No one benefits from pointing the finger at neighboring countries, but the fact remains that renewable electricity would offset more coal power if Germany did not export so much electricity.
Renewables International 12th March 2014 read more »
The idea that the cold war would never come back has been demolished by the crisis in Ukraine, said the Tory MP, Julian Lewis. What if Putin threatened one of the Baltic states, all of which are members of Nato? Lewis, an inveterate defender of nuclear weapons, was speaking at a debate on the future of the UK’s Trident nuclear missile fleet organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. Britain needed a nuclear arsenal, with one Trident submarine continuously at sea as an “insurance policy against the unknown”, and blackmail, said Lewis.
Guardian 20th March 2014 read more »
Renewables – investment
George Osborne quietly moved to kill off Britain’s renewable revolution in Wednesday’s budget as he stealthily enacted David Cameron’s rumoured call to his cabinet to kill off the “green crap”. With such stealth that it went almost entirely unspotted by environmentalists and journalists, who were busy focusing on his move to reduce fossil-fuel energy costs for big business, Osborne at a stroke abolished a key tax break that has attracted hundreds of millions of pounds of private money to help build Britain’s green energy future. Tucked away in the budget’s red book is an innocuous-looking line that Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax breaks will no longer be available for companies benefiting from the renewables obligation certificate (ROC) scheme or the renewable heat incentive (RHI). Of these, the ROC scheme is the big one. It underlies all the big wind, solar and other renewable technologies in the UK. The EIS tax breaks are available to investors who put money into all sorts of start-up companies. Until now that has also included firms building wind and solar farms. Now, after royal assent to the legislation in July, it will not be. One City fund manager on Wednesday predicted that many funds would simply have to hand back money to investors that they could not deploy into solar or wind projects by then.
Guardian 20th March 2014 read more »
Renewables – tidal lagoon
Three tidal lagoons could be in operation around Britain by 2021 producing large-scale low carbon power at a cheaper price than offshore wind, according to their developer, Tidal Lagoon Power. The company said a report commissioned from management consultant, Poyry confirmed the lagoons, starting with one at Swansea Bay in south Wales, could produce power for about £100 per megawatt hour (MWh). “This study clearly demonstrates that tidal lagoons can rapidly become one of the cheapest sources of electricity in the UK. The more water we impound, the more power we produce, the less support we require,” said Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Power.
Guardian 21st March 2014 read more »
The number of completed Green Deal plans increased to 883 in February, up from 746 in January, according to the latest Government figures. Under the Government’s flagship energy efficiency scheme, 1,754 Green Deal Plans were in progress at the end of February, compared to 1,721 at the end of January. The figures are far lower than Government expectations – energy minister Greg Barker has previously said he expected up to 10,000 plans signed by the end of 2013. Green Deal assessments increased to 163,096 by the end of February, up from 145,098 in January.
Edie 20th March 2014 read more »
The UK government’s flagship home energy efficiency programme, the green deal, has all but ground to a halt, with just 33 plans signed in February. The latest figures for the policy, once vaunted as the biggest home retrofit since the war aimed at cutting energy bills for 14m homes, are by far the worst since the scheme began. “The scheme was always going to be something of a slow burner initially, but the number of new plans is reducing to a trickle,” said John Alker, at the UK Green Building Council. “There are fewer new plans now than at the very beginning of the scheme.”
Guardian 20th March 2014 read more »
One hundred years after Welsh coal powered the British Empire, a shale gas explorer is set to be the first to float in London on the back of a gas boom in the Principality. UK Onshore Gas, which will start drilling in June, believes that Wales is sitting on so much shale gas that it will start exporting it to the rest of the world. Gerwyn Williams, chairman of the family-owned business, said that the Milford Haven terminal in South Wales, which imports liquefied natural gas from shippers could be reconfigured to export the fuel.
Times 21st March 2014 read more »
The Government and fracking companies have launched a joint charm offensive in a bid to win “a social licence” to operate from a general public that is widely opposed to shale gas development.
Independent 20th March 2014 read more »
At a shale gas conference in London yesterday, the chief executive of a fracking company acknowledged that he and his rivals still have to earn the “social licence” to operate in Britain. Separately, a senior official at the Department of Energy and Climate Change noted that everything is in place except for public support. Given that the venue of the meeting had been hastily changed to avoid a run-in with protesters – not least Vivienne Westwood – the insight is hardly perspicacious. But it is welcome nonetheless.
Independent 20th March 2014 read more »