Azara Blog: Government gives go ahead for new nuclear power stations

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Date published: 2008/01/10

The BBC says:

A new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK has been given formal backing by the government.

Business Secretary John Hutton told MPs they would give a "safe and affordable" way of securing the UK's future energy supplies while fighting climate change.

He said any plants would be built at or near existing reactors by private firms and said he hoped the first one would be completed "well before 2020".

Critics say new reactors will be expensive, dirty and dangerous.

The government will not be building any reactors itself - but it says it will take steps, such as streamlining the planning process and identifying likely sites, to encourage private operators to build them.

Mr Hutton conceded that no nuclear plant had been built anywhere in the world without public money - but he insisted there would be no subsidies from the UK government.
The government has also yet to decide how much new nuclear operators should pay towards the cost of building underground caverns as a permanent storage site for Britain's nuclear waste.
French energy giant EDF has already said it plans to build four nuclear plants in the UK by 2017, without subsidies, following the government's announcement.
The government is also publishing an Energy Bill designed to reduce carbon emissions and secure the UK's power supplies.

But its nuclear plans could be still be subject to a legal challenge from Greenpeace, which successfully challenged an earlier government review backing nuclear power in the High Court.

It claims research shows that even 10 new reactors would cut the UK's carbon emissions by only about 4% some time after 2025.

One of the most widely trailed policy announcements of the government in recent times. And it makes sense to look at nuclear power again. However, it is ridiculous to claim that "no subsidies" exist when the government has not even decided "how much new nuclear operators should pay towards the cost of building underground caverns as a permanent storage site for Britain's nuclear waste". Needless to say, there are all sorts of implicit subsidies any time government gives planning permission for any energy plant, including for so-called renewables. And oil, gas and coal plants receive implicit subsidies because they are not paying (enough) for their carbon emissions.

On the other hand, it is also ridiculous that Greenpeace, a bunch of unelected academic middle class control freaks, should be able to blackmail the entire nation in the way they have already over nuclear power. And if 10 reactors "only" cut carbon emissions by 4%, then presumably perhaps we should build 30 or 50 to make a real difference. Of course Greenpeace doesn't want that, and it's a completely fatuous argument in any case. Carbon emissions are not going to miraculously disappear because of one, and only one technology, but from small combinations from lots of technologies (including energy efficiency).

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