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Comments

Chris Whiteside

I could write hundreds of words on what is wrong with the anti-nuclear arguments on this thread, but here are just a few of the main points.

First of all, it is quite possible to support a role for nuclear energy without being in any way hostile or disloyal to David Cameron. When I asked David about his stance on the issue a few weeks ago he said clearly and in so many words "we are not anti-nuclear."

Secondly, you do not have to argue for a massive increase in the nuclear element in our electricity supply to put the case that nuclear power can increase our overall energy security. The more diverse our sources of energy the less dependent we are on any one source, and the more easily we can respond if one supplier - such as the Russian gas supplier, to take a topical example - increases its prices or cuts off supplies.

Thirdly most of those who favour a nuclear element in the strategy are not in any way hostile to energy efficiency: the vast majority of the articles I have read which are pro-nuclear describe it as part of a balanced policy which also includes more use of renewable energy sources and energy saving.

Fourthly, if you did not count decommissioning and waste costs nuclear would be far and away the cheapest form of energy: when you include them the calculations become far more complex but it is still cheaper than most other low-carbon forms of energy.

If government were foolish enough to combine a pure free market in energy with a framework in which there was no tax incentive whatsoever to curb carbon emissions, it would be likely that virtually all our energy would come from dirty sources and we could forget about controlling carbon emissions - along with any attempt to limit our impact on the environment.

However, once you put in place mechanisms to improve the relative attactiveness of low carbon energy, for example taxing on the "pollluter pays" principle, you are in a different ballgame. Provided that you have a level playing field betwen different low-carbon sources, and provided you give a clear indication of the long term framework, there is no reason why nuclear power cannot compete on fair terms with other forms of low-carbon power.

Incidentally, I have never worked for or been paid by the nuclear industry. I have chosen to live in a community where more than a quarter of the working population does.

The first time I was selected to fight the Copeland seat for the Conservatives, I moved my family 300 miles, to within two miles of Sellafield. Obviously I would never in a million years have applied to fight a seat where 17,000 jobs depend on the nuclear industry, nor moved here and stayed here, if I had the least doubt that Britain needs that industry or about the safety of the industry.

William Norton

Benet Northcote: Could the pro-nuclear lobby on this thread please tell us whether the taxpayer should be liable for the costs of decommissioning nuclear power stations, if operators go bankrupt before the end of the life of the plant?

Handle it through a form of compulsory industry levy to finance an insurance scheme, in much the same way that we insure for losses caused by hit and run drivers.

I've not run the numbers but the principle is sound, and the only question would be whether the levy would apply only to nuclear operators or would be spread more widely. Arguments for a narrow levy would be that the industry ought to be self-financing; arguments for a wider levy would be that (a) all of us have an interest and would benefit from successful decommissioning; (b) at the moment all of us are supporting grants etc to 'alternative energy' and if you're going to advantage one energy sector why not others; (c) a wider levy would result in a lower burden per payer.

Bobby Zope

Why do the pro nuclear lobby not look at the terrorist threat from nuclear. That just does it for me. How can you support Britain, and be for such a dangerous techonology. A nuclear accident could kill millions, and make chunks of the UK uninhabitable for centuries. I do not see how any ill thought out notions, that nuclear is cheap or reliable, can save nuclear from that threat. There is no conclusive prooth that nuclear is cheaper or more reliable than the other options. It is not true that an aeroplane crashing into Old Trafford, could make Manchester unihabitable for centuries or even kill as many people. What is the point in just creating a a very serious and dangerous target for a terrorist. And no matter what defences you put forward we do not know what weapons terrorist will have to them in 20 or thirty years. Or will the nuclear lobby tell us that a terrorist would not want to blow up a nuclear energy station, because they don't like killing people?

Matt Wright

Bobby, ironically the Green movement has created a paradox I think they are unlikely to get out of now. By making man-made global warming the main plank of their strategy and CO2 reductions the central issue, they are setting themselves up for nuclear power,

Matt

Bobby Zope

I may be as unpopular for saying this but surely carbon storage is an option. We just require to reduce carbon not a cut in one go. Clean coal. By the time we have switched over too nuclear, clean coal will be cheaper, and it will not take the infrastrucutre changes that nuclear would require.
Nuclear has too many drawbacks for such a geographically small nation as the UK.

Matt Wright

Bobby, Coal can be used cleanly and would see us through many years while we perfected and built safer nuclear technologies. In the meantime we could sell clean coal technology to China so helping them get their CO2 down as well. This sort of practical approach would do far more in the real world to get CO2 down, if that is your real aim.

Matt

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