A Junior Moment
June 30th 2008
Today’s debate on energy was surreal.
Both main parties are cuddling up to nuclear power. Only three years ago, Labour said nuclear was an unattractive option. The two Tory energy gurus, Peter Ainsworth and Zac Goldsmith said that nuclear would be acceptable only as a ‘last option.’
I asked Secretary of State John Hutton why he has been bewitched by the Pied Piper of nuclear which after massive UK subsidies has never delivered on time or on budget and has left us with a £73 bn clean-up bill. ‘New’ nuclear in Finland is two years late and a £1billion over budget. Why not invest in the practical popular attainable renewables of wave, tidal, solar and wind?
His answer proved he is deeply under the nuclear spell. Helpfully Tory Ann Main asked about the vast security costs of new installations because of the terrorist threat. She said,
"Will he briefly address the comments of Hamish Roberts, managing director of the Aon natural resources team for strategic risk management? He said that the Government’s plans for nuclear expansion are unachievable unless they think beyond the risks of safety. Will the Secretary of State address the terrorism risks in future plans for fuel security?"
It is a serious point which did not get an answer. John Hutton gave the impression that there was no problem. his answer was the equivalent of "There, there, don't you worry your pretty head about these things." Presumably a couple of Home Guards with rifles will see off any saboteurs.
Monmouth’s David Davies, playing truant from his job as a policeman, demanded lots more nuclear stations. He is a prime nuclear glutton. "Will he ensure that we get on with building nuclear power stations as quickly as possible? Rather than building only enough to generate 24 per cent. of our electricity, should we not go beyond that, as the French have?"
There was a plan for a nuclear power station in Portskewitt in his constituency. It was before the Gwent County Council in 1979. It was turned down by a large majority not entirely because of the persuasive powers of Jon Vaughan Jones and me. We were young county councillors then. The chance of 2,000 jobs was rejected because of the accident at Three Mile Island in March 1979 while the planning application was being processed by the County
David has some excuse for not knowing about this. He was only nine years old at the time. Today he was probably having a 'junior moment.' If he is so keen, I wonder if he will exhume the idea and demand a nuclear power station on his own doorstep and volunteer Portskewett as a site.
That should spark a lively local debate.