Construction bigwigs may be gung ho about Blair’s nuclear vision for Britain, but among the grassroots there’s considerable disquiet. Nick Jones gathers fierce opinions on both side of the web divide
Search terms: Energy review + nuclear
“Tony has a thing for nuclear, an unsavoury relationship that is no good for anyone but his lover, the nuclear industry. Roll on the subsidies!” That’s how climatechangeaction.blogspot.com chose to sum up the DTI’s energy review, in a view not out of keeping with the rest of the green blogging community. www.andinia.com lamented that “Tony Blair’s continued obsession with nuclear power has overridden the UK’s clean energy revolution”, while climatechangeaction returned to the theme later in the week by quoting the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research: “Today’s energy review has a highly disproportionate focus on electricity supply as opposed to heat and transport – neglecting the other 82% of energy use.”
John Vidal, writing on the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog (commentisfree.guardian.co.uk) also bemoaned the fact that “the British nuclear industry, which has self-confessedly botched its finances for two generations and left future governments with a £70m decommissioning bill as well as a £10bn mountain of radioactive waste to clear up, can carry on as if its sorry past had never happened”. However, Vidal disagreed that it was neglectful of other areas of energy use: “It may also be justly remembered as the moment when an oil-obsessed, energy-profligate DTI read the runes and began a slow turn towards a low-carbon economy.”
Responding to Vidal’s piece, blogger madscience dismissed the idea the review had not paid enough attention to alternative decentralised methods of energy generation: “Microgeneration will make no difference whatsoever. You will still need back-up grid power for when your £1000 Asda turbine falls off the roof again, or when your £5000 solar panel stops working at night. A centralised grid has meant cheap energy through economies of scale, and a high quality of life since the turn of last century.” Gus A was unconvinced: “I’m not sure why you can subsidise nuclear but not local initiatives?”
While other bloggers were ruminating on whether or not our great-grandchildren would consider this a dark day in our nation’s history, Chris Whiteside (chris4copeland.blogspot.com), Conservative candidate for Copeland in Cumbria at the last general election, was keen to consider the economic implications: “If we want the concentration of nuclear skill and expertise in West Cumbria to have an opportunity to take part in a new generation of nuclear plants, we need to lobby for a solution which includes either a place for plants up to 600 MW or a substantial upgrade to the national grid.”
Whether the prospect of a new nuclear plant in West Cumbria will go down well with all residents is a moot point. Kim Deal writes movingly on Rant in F Sharp (rantinf.blogspot.com) about watching her father-in-law, a nuclear process worker at Sellafield, die from bone marrow cancer. It is fair to say she is unambiguous about what she believes caused his illness.