Now the government has finlly committed itself to nuclear it needs to demonstrate it believes in renewables and energy conservation
The Government’s formal backing of new build nuclear power stations should be cautiously welcomed. It means we can all move on the next stage of a new build nuclear future, the question now is how that future will be shaped.
That next stage, and it is a crucial one is task is to win public opinion around. There is plenty of loud and organised opposition, the best way to counter this is for government and the power generators to be completely open and transparent about the unquestionably contentious issues surrounding nuclear.
The first one is money. The government has said it won’t subsidise nuclear and the power generators have said they don’t need it. So we don’t want to find out further down the process hidden subsidies are being dished out. The funding process, and the costs should be laid out by the power generators and government for all to see.
The second issue is waste. A long term solution to our existing waste mountain needs to be found, and new build nuclear will only add to this. There may be an argument to subsidise the costs of disposing of legacy waste but the power generators should cough up a decent chunk to cover their addition, and maybe they should be generous here as a long term solution would be a key PR plank in the argument for new build nuclear.
The third is to clearly demonstrate nuclear is just one part of a joined up energy policy, not a magic bullet for all our energy problems. This means boosting subsidy for renewables. If there was ever a time to nick some Tory policy this is it, an announcement that private individuals will get more generous returns for supplying the grid with green power would send exactly the right message.
The other key area that needs tackling is a way of getting people to upgrade existing buildings to make these more energy efficient. Some kind of incentives that are easy to access and available to all are needed. Nuclear must be supplying power we can’t generate from renewables because the sun isn’t shining or the wind blowing, and isn’t leaking from old draughty homes.
The final battle ground is planning. The news that new stations will be on or new existing sites is hardly surprising and sensible. The key now is to ensure the planning bill enables new stations to go ahead without the long winded public enquires of a T5 or Sizewell B but also it doesn’t allow those wanting to build new nuclear power stations to trample over justifiable objections. Deciding to go nuclear is the easy bit, now the government has to deliver.