Sustainable Development Commission cites long-term waste, security risks and costs as major disadvantages of nuclear power.

An influential sustainability watchdog today came out against a new nuclear power programme.

The Sustainable Development Commission, the government's independent watchdog on sustainable development, found that there was no justification for bringing forward a renewed nuclear programme.

In its response to the government's Energy Review, the SDC said that even if the UK's existing nuclear capacity was doubled, it would only give an 8% cut on CO2 emissions by 2035, with nothing before 2010.

Based on eight new research papers, the SDC highlighted five major disadvantages to nuclear power:

  • Long term waste: no solutions currently available and impossible to guarantee safety
  • Cost: economics of new-build are uncertain with little justification for public subsidy. Taxpayers would have to pick up tab of over budget projects
  • Inflexibility: nuclear would lock the UK into a centralised distribution system for the next 50 years, at exactly the time when opportunities for microgeneration and local distribution network are stronger than ever
  • Undermining energy efficiency: a new nuclear programme would give out the wrong signal to consumers and businesses, implying that a major technological fix is all that's required
  • International security: The UK cannot deny other countries the same new nuclear technology but with lower safety standards they run higher risks of accidents, radiation exposure and terrorist attacks.
However, the SDC also said it did not rule out further research into new nuclear technologies.