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I am sorry, Benet, but a propaganda video from Greenpeace is most certainly not a good starting point for anyone wishing to understand energy policy.

Benet Northcote

Given your posting just seven minutes after the link was published, you clearly haven't even made the effort to watch it.

I am surprised your at your prejudice aristeides.

Please point out the factual inaccuracies in the video? Or at least your analysis of the why the argument put forward is flawed.

Chris C

TomTom: what *would* you suggest, oh wise one?

You've not actually suggested anything.

Benet Northcote

Actually, now I am on a roll.

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?


Of course I haven't made the "effort" to watch it! It would be like asking me to make up my mind on who should run the country based on watching a Labour party political broadcast.

Greenpeace put ideology above practical sense as was seen by the Brent Spar platform fiasco. Sorry, no thanks.


Any measurements of our energy security should include the amount of blood that we are prepared to see spilled. This is the ugly genital for which the term "energy security" is a figleaf. Both major parties have a vested interested in skirting this issue because they are both hip deep in Iraqui blood. So, are we a major power that is ready to shoot it's way in to retrieve our oil from under their stupid desert? Or are we a bunch of sissies, but with brains?

Benet Northcote

Aristeides, I asked to you assess the argument in the film; not to be convinced by it. Yet you refuse to even watch it! Do you refuse?

Can you answer my other point about nuclear liabilities on the taxpayer?


Benet, I am not sure what sort of roll you think you're on but to accuse the commenters here who provide their opinions on a whole range of issues day in day out as being part of the "pro-nuclear lobby" is a tad prejudiced, to use your own words, is it not, as well as plain wrong?

I repeat that the consensus seems to be that there should be a mixed supply of energy and a move away from carbon generating sources. It is hard to see how this can be done without some nuclear contribution. Are you saying that any nuclear contribution should not even be considered, at all, ever?


Sorry - I typed that response before your last post.

Yes, I refuse. I have told you why.

You addressed the second question to "the pro-nuclear lobby" on the thread. I am not and never have been a lobbyist for the nuclear industry. Are you saying that I am or do you withdraw the accusation?

I do, however, see a role for nuclear generation in Britain and I said above that it is broadly for the market to decide at what level its input should be. I think that is a reasonable and Conservative position.

Cllr Tony Sharp

I am struck by the tone of Benet Northcote's posts on here. Judging by them can we expect the Quality of Life board to be recommending a Greenpeace-type agenda to the party?

Benet, your comments so far suggest more than a little prejudice against nuclear power and a blinkered attitude towards renewables. Would be glad if you could clarify. Thanks.

Benet Northcote

Aristeides, whenever I post on most blogs I am always upset when it gets aggressive and personal. I apologize if I contribute to that at times but I genuinely believe the film link I gave gives a dispassionate, rationale, approach to how we meet our energy needs. In a spirit of constructive debate - and partisan friendship - I urge you to watch it with an open mind.

Again, sorry if I accused you of being part of the pro-nuclear lobby. My reference was directly addressed to those on the board (for example Roger Helmer) who are proud members of the pro-nuclear lobby.

In answer to your question the answer is simple: I do not believe nuclear should be considered.

The reasons are simple. Firstly, I am not sure it is ethical to leave dangerous waste, which will last for 10,000 years; longer even than Stonehenge has been built. If it is discovered by those who don't know its danger, their lives will be lost. I believe my moral responsibility to them is the same as it is to my children today.

Secondly, there is not a nuclear project in the world which does not exist without massive taxpayer subsidy. A few years ago British Energy had to be bailed out at enormous cost to you and me. The Metronet experience last month proves that you cannot be certain the taxpayer won't have to meet the costs eventually. I am a Conservative and like to see market solutions. State run energy does not fit into my world view.

Finally, there are better solutions. All the evidence shows that nuclear will not meet either of our energy gaps. The first plants will not be built in time to meet a gap in 2016/17. It is likely there will be another dash-for-gas in this time. The later plants will miss the second likely gap in 2020/25.
Meanwhile, nuclear demands vast amounts of capital and engineering expertise, making it much harder for alternatives to get a look in.

Pound for pound, energy efficiency will do more for our energy security. Combine that with coal and gas fired CHP and we can meet our CO2 reduction targets, and secure our energy needs, without resorting to state-subsidised nuclear power.

Matt Davis

Two points:

1) Nobody on this thread has actually made any concrete alternative proposals, merely some vague aspirationsl vision statement type stuff. Anyone got any specific ideas?

2) Nuclear is dependant upon regular supplies of uranium. We don't exactly mine great quantities of that in the UK so swapping fossil fuels for nuclear does not give us total energy security it just changes which other nations it is that we will be dependant upon for our basic fuel source, we would still be insecure.

Benet Northcote

Oh sorry - again - to be clear, I am not suggested that Roger is paid by anyone. Merely that he effectively lobbies (without any involvement from the nuclear industry) for lots more nuclear power.

My libel lawyer is on the phone now :)

Andrew Lilico

Since Benet is, as far as I am aware, a policy advisor to Greenpeace, we can hardly be surprised if he considers its advice objective and worth listening to. I'm not sure I feel obliged to share that opinion.

I've listened to/watched the piece. There seem to me to be about a zillion things worth disagreeing with in there. Amongst these would be the point that it is precisely because irrational lobby groups like Greenpeace have poisoned the political climate against nuclear power, preventing rational deep-sea dumping of waste or reprocessing of fuels; preventing nuclear reactors achieving anything like their efficient levels of utilization; making it socially unacceptable for the brightest and best researchers to produce technological developments in nuclear power; preventing the building of more up-to-date efficient and safer nuclear power stations; and many other totally irrational, scientifically blind, and ethically confused actions - it is precisely because if this litany of error that nuclear power looks so financially unattractive and needs as much state support as it does.

This is not necessarily to say that nuclear power would be an ideal solution once these (massive) distortions, created precisely by Greenpeace and its misguided and destructive fellow-travellers, were adjusted for then nuclear power would, in fact, be efficient from a market point of view. We would still, of course, require some state power stations so as to garner and experiment upon nuclear materials for military purposes, but that's another story (and another thing that Greenpeace totally misguidedly and destructively campaigns against).

So, I watched your film. And that's what I think is wrong with it.

Andrew Lilico

You may have gathered that I'm not particularly keen on Greenpeace. Does that mean it has no goals or ideas that I might have, at a stretch and holding my nose, some sympathy with? No. It says some worthy-albeit-confused things. But then so does the Black Socialist Society - another organisation that, like Greenpeace, is intimately connected to a political party rivalling the Conservatives.


Nuclear is dependant upon regular supplies of uranium. We don't exactly mine great quantities of that in the UK

True but we do consider Australia friendly....

Today Australia's share of the world's uranium resources in the low cost category is about 30%. Other countries with major uranium deposits are Canada, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Namibia, Brazil and the USA.


State run energy does not fit into my world view.

Suits me just fine - I really liked the CEGB....so you get your electricity from biomass in your garden and I shall source mine from State-owned nuclear power plants


TomTom: what *would* you suggest, oh wise one?

You've not actually suggested anything.

Posted by: Chris C | August 01, 2007 at 03:37 PM

I shall not sign myself Oracle At Delphi - but it is obvious we must build nuclear power plants starting in 2008 probably using French or maybe German technology since we are a bit under-invested and don't actually own any electricity generators ourselves

Benet Northcote

Andrew: am flattered you looked me up! For the record I write here in a strictly personal capacity, so forgive me if I do not directly answer your criticisms of my employer.

Clearly we disagree on nuclear and the causes of its lack of economic competitiveness. It is a detailed debate and maybe one that is not best suited to the blogsphere (certainly as the debate has moved into a discussion on Greenpeace's activities and I am not allowed to answer that here).

I am always surprised however that Conservatives on this board are generally not more supportive of increased energy efficiency.

If we used less, we wouldn't need either new large-scale coal or nuclear power. We waste so much energy in lost heat; which is so inefficient.

Let's address that and then have the debate on what technologies we need in addition.

Surely it is best to use less to start with???


The French, and others, have demonstrated that nuclear power is clean, safe and cheap.
If we don't build more nuclear power stations, we will soon be burning more gas to generate electricity.
Arguments about how or when we can move away from oil and gas for transport and central heating are irrelevant to the debate about which power stations we should build.
If we invest in better insulation for buildings - as the Green brigade is so keen to do - electricity becomes a viable option for heating.
If we discourage motoring and move towards bicycles, trams and trains - as the Green brigade would like us to do - we will automatically move from oil to electricity.
If the car and the lorry continue to provide 90% of the land transport in Britain, we will need petrol and diesel for the future. Biodiesel from genetically modified plants may be the long-term solution.


An interesting article and a preety good debate.

My view is that it is strange to get emotionally attached to any form of energy generation although if you are going to then I am inclined to go for the least polluting, cheapest one.

I also think it is just sense from an energy security point of view to have a long term goal to make everything more energy efficient(personally I would subsidise this any day rather than subsidise an energy supplier) that way you are more likely to have a choice of supplies(because supply is finite, i.e less is better) and can switch faster( less capital costs etc).

Like most of the other posters here in my final analysis a mix of supplies has to be the most sensible way as is not ruling anything in or out. If I had to be pushed on Nuclear I think Cameron is pretty much right and what's more in line with public opinion.


Peter Franlikn says "But if this really is the limit of their ambitions, then nuclear should not be presented as the solution to the challenge of energy security."

This is highly disingenius - to set up an argument that no one has made, then knock it down and claim victory. I have not heard any serious proponents of nuclear suggest that it is '...the solution to the challenge of energy security...', but rahter that it should part of a broad and diverse approach to energy policy, which should include variety in energy production (renewables, oil/gas, 'clean' coal, and nuclear) as well as a greater investment in energy efficiency and micro-generation.

A '14%' reduction in our requirement for fossil fuels would be a pretty good start!

Cllr Tony Sharp

Benet, is using less really going to make any difference in the long term when we have projections of our population increasing to 75 million or more? Then of course there are the energy pressures of industrialisation too.

As I thought Greenpeace was committed to getting us away from dependence on oil and gas and coal to generate electricity I am a little surprised to see you advocating their use of fossil fuels in CHP plants.

You said earlier that pound for pound, energy efficiency will do more for our energy security [than nuclear]. Being more efficient does not eliminate the need for oil or gas - which will still need to be sourced from countries that are geopolitically unstable or potentially hostile. So I am afraid that argument is rather weak.

The only way Britain will be largely reliant on herself for energy is if she has nuclear power plants providing most of her electricity needs. There is scope for renewables to reduce draw on the grid a little, or at least for the 25% of the time when renewables can actually function. But it makes no sense to continue relying on oil and gas imports to generate electricity when home based technology can fulfil that role.

If anything we should be accelerating research and funding into nuclear fusion technology. There is no reason today not to plan ahead for the reliable energy technologies we will need in 40 years time. Rejecting the idea at this stage would be dogmatic and detrimental.

Matt Wright

We have 200 years supply of coal right here in the UK. We have clean coal technology including techniques to sequestrate the CO2. Not only can we produce electricity from the coal efficiently but we can also produce gas from the coal (and indeed also oil if we wanted to)! We could securely and cleanly use coal while we refined our nuclear technologies to make them safer. We could also sell the clean coal technologies to China. A clear strategy. All these things would help to reduce CO2 and improve our security and exports. There are multiple win-wins for us and a great opportunity for practical policies.


Andrew Lilico


To clarify: I have no objection to your working for Greenpeace - we all gotta eat, and there are plenty of worse things than working for an environmentalist organisation. But if you are going to promulgate a Greenpeace line, I hope you will agree that it is fair enough that you are subject to a Greenpeace critique.


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