The Coalition Agreement, signed in May 2010, gives a firm and unequivocal commitment to promote the construction of new nuclear reactors only if they receive “no public subsidy”.
But persuading utilities to invest in reactors looked difficult without rigging the market. Former government advisor, Tom Burke, says: “it soon became clear that neutering the planning system, capping the cost of radioactive waste management, continuing to accept the bulk of the nuclear industry’s third-party liabilities and putting in a floor price for carbon would not be enough.”
Rather than give up on nuclear the Government is now set to break its promise on subsidies with a new Energy Bill which will implement a series of Electricity Market Reforms (EMR). Subsidising new sustainable technologies in order to help their deployment and reduce costs so they can eventually survive without subsidy is sensible policy. But subsidising a 70 year-old technology which hasn’t achieved cost reductions, and produces dangerous waste, is crazy.
The Government’s own analysis shows we don’t need nuclear power to keep the lights on and reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Former director of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper points out that:
“Far from doing away with fossil fuels, the UK’s doomed nuclear ambitions could actually make things worse. By putting political weight behind nuclear power stations that won’t actually get built, attention is being taken away from renewable energy and energy efficiency. By the time the policy does fail, we won’t have renewable energy on the scale we could have done and as a result we will be forced to rely on fossil power sources. The message is simple: back nuclear and get gas”.
This website aims to show why we should not learn to love, or even reluctantly accept nuclear power, because it will seriously damage efforts to tackle climate change. The site is designed to provide information for everyone from committed anti-nuclear campaigners to people who may be campaigning on other climate issues who just want to dip in occasionally.
For a longer briefing on nuclear subsidies see The coalition is set to break its promise on nuclear.