Last updated: 10 January 2008
We try to post occasional comments on the latest news here. If you want a much more thorough round-up of recent events, take a look at Pete Roche's No 2 Nuclear Power website.
Last updated: 10 January 2008
We try to post occasional comments on the latest news here. If you want a much more thorough round-up of recent events, take a look at Pete Roche's No 2 Nuclear Power website.
9 January 2008: The BBC is reporting Nuclear plants set for go-ahead. Well there's a surprise. A great victory for heavy political lobbying by the nuclear industry—and a disastrous defeat for common sense, the economy, and the environment after two sham "public consultations". Read more:
28 November 2006: Those excellent people at Corporate Watch (UK) have produced a detailed new 28-page report suggesting nothing has changed with nuclear power: it's still the hopeless option:
"Throughout its fifty year history, Britain's nuclear industry has consistently failed to deliver on its promises. Now, less than five years after the financial collapse of British Energy, the UK's commercial nuclear generator, the public, parliament, and the financial markets are being asked once again to believe that a new generation of nuclear power stations can produce electricity safely and without government subsidy. And once again, there is good reason to believe that the industry's predictions are as spurious as in previous decades."You can read the report in full on the Corporate Watch website.
28 November 2006: We're happy to pass on this press release from The Greenhouse:
Because of the high level of concern—and a fear that the Government is prejudging the issues arising from its own Energy review—there will be a Mass Lobby of Parliament on 28 November 2006. It will take place from 1.00-5.00pm in Portcullis House, Westminster, and a large number of experts is being assembled to brief ministers and MPs on the issues. They will include Allan Jones MBE, Dr Kate Hudson and Prof. Sue Roaf, and an invitation has been extended to Satu Hassi, Finnish Environment Minister. The four sessions will be chaired by MPs Michael Meacher (Labour), Chris Huhne (Lib-Dem), Tim Yeo (Conservative) and Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru) - illustrating the wide cross-party support already attracted by the lobby.
The organisers, Nuclear Power No Thanks, hope that as many people as possible will come along to the event, and urge their own MP to attend as well. Further information is available from Nuclear Power No Thanks.
11 July 2006: It's the least newsworthy piece of news for months: Tony Blair has given the green light to building more nuclear power plants in Britain, with the DTI's latest energy review published today. No-one who's been following the nuclear debate since last year will be remotely surprised by Blair's lack of vision or leadership. Blair's legacy? More nuclear waste, more opportunities for terrorist attacks, and a total failure to tackle climate change.
Commenting on the Energy Review, Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth said:
"This Energy Review is a massive missed opportunity. It is not ambitious enough on energy efficiency and renewable power, and practically ignores tackling emissions from the transport sector. It is clear that the Government priority is nuclear power. This is a huge mistake. Nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary. We can tackle climate change and meet our energy needs through clean safe technologies. The UK is currently one of the Europe's worst performers on renewable energy. The Government must aim to make the UK a world leader in developing a low-carbon economy."
Speaking for Greenpeace UK, Stephen Tindale said:
"Tony Blair is fixated with getting new nuclear power stations built, and that means anything substantial in this review that supports clean green energy will be fatally undermined as long as Blair remains Prime Minister. You can't roll out new nuclear power stations and build widespread sustainable energy projects. The reality is that nuclear sucks up all the money. There is an enormous radioactive cloud hanging over this energy review which threatens to drown any positive moves on decentralised energy, renewables and energy efficiency."
16 May 2006: Anyone fooled by Tony Blair's pretence at an "energy review" had their final wakeup call this evening, when the Prime Minister announced to his friends at the CBI that nuclear power is back on his agenda with "a vengeance". Blair's speech prompted outrage from nuclear critics and hints from ex-minister Elliot Morley that the energy review is a fix. Blair, his cronies, and the CBI are continuing to push nuclear as a "carbon-free" way of generating energy, which it certainly isn't.
The critics have blasted Blair for pre-empting his own so-called energy review. According to Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth:
"Increasingly it looks like the energy consultation has been a complete sham. It's clear that Tony Blair is fixated with nuclear power and is determined to oversee a new generation of nuclear reactors rather than investing in clean and sustainable options that already exist. It's probably no coincidence that a number of nuclear sceptics were removed from key cabinet posts earlier this month. The UK could be leading the world in the development of a low carbon, nuclear free economy. But rather than backing safe solutions for tackling climate change and meeting our energy needs, he seems intent on trying to waste yet more tax-payers money on a discredited and dangerous nuclear dinosaur."
Stephen Tindale of Greenpeace also had harsh words:
"Wasting billions of pounds of taxpayers' money on a ridiculously dangerous and antiquated form of energy is certainly back on the agenda. Nuclear power presents a real terrorist threat, costs a stupid amount of money, doesn't help in the fight against climate change and certainly won't plug the energy gap. To put this hazard back on the agenda is recklessly incompetent."
Kate Hudson of CND reaffirmed her view that nuclear power is not the answer:
"Tony Blair must know that nuclear power does not make economic or environmental sense, and that it will do nothing to solve climate change. It is incomprehensible that he accepts the spin of the nuclear industry and comes to the conclusion that the UK needs more nuclear power. Any decision on nuclear power must come as the result of a full public parliamentary debate. Nuclear power is money down the drain that is going to produce major environmental and health hazards without solving the climate change issue."
26 April 2006: What would the UK be like if a Chernobyl-style accident happened at one of our nuclear power stations? Take Oldbury, near Bristol. According to the Stop Hinkley campaign:
Most people think that they live far enough from a nuclear reactor not to have to worry. But as we approach the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl, a newly-generated map that re-plots the radiation hotspots resulting from Chernobyl as if the explosion had occurred at Oldbury nuclear reactor shows that such an accident could require long-term evacuation of parts of London and a swathe of the home counties as well as Bristol and the surrounding area.
So how likely is a Chernobyl-style accident at Oldbury, and what controls the pattern of radioactive pollution that would result?
Once radioactive isotopes were released from Chernobyl it was a combination of the wind and rainfall that determined where they fell to earth. It is striking that in the case of Chernobyl, the areas requiring mandatory long-term evacuation are not only concentrated close to the reactor, but also include equally radioactive hotspots one hundred miles and more from the nuclear reactor due to rainfall down-wind after the explosion. Of course, if an accident were to occur at Oldbury, the weather pattern and pattern of radioactive fallout would not exactly mimic that of Chernobyl, but plotting the Chernobyl contamination pattern centred on Oldbury shows how far-reaching the effects could be.
For an accident as catastrophic as Chernobyl to occur at one of the UK's reactors the reactor would have to run out of control. At Chernobyl, due to its particular design and due to misguided experimentation with the reactor just prior to the moment of disaster, the reactor core overheated so fast that the rods to control the core could not be re-inserted fast enough and an explosion resulted.
British nuclear operators claim better design and less stupidity. But is this claim credible? In the case of Oldbury reactor 1 the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate insisted that it must be shut down for safety reasons between 2004 and 2005. Their worries centred on the discovery of severe corrosion in the graphite reactor core that has become crumbly and weak after decades of erosion by radiation. They feared that cracks could develop and lead to rapid overheating and release of radioactivity. A further fear is that cracks could allow slight movement in the bricks, which could in turn make it impossible to re-insert the control rods, which, as at Chernobyl, would leave the reactor core in a runaway nuclear reaction.
Oldbury reactor 1 is now operating once more under condition that further safety evidence be presented to the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate to justify continued operation beyond one year. Reactor 2 has an even more eroded core and is presently shut down until the operator can convince the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate that it is not unsafe.
Quite apart from accidental disaster, in light of 9/11 we also need to be aware that nuclear reactors are potential terrorist targets and that they are not designed to withstand impacts from passenger jets like those that demolished the Twin Towers.
Stop Hinkley and Shut Oldbury Campaign coordinator, Jim Duffy said, "We are currently waiting for the Government's decision on whether to build a new generation of nuclear power stations following its current energy review. It is time to take a closer look at why Chernobyl should teach us not to go any further down the path of nuclear energy, even if that means looking at some unthinkably horrible scenarios."
And that's just Oldbury. To see the possible spread of fallout from Oldbury, click on the thumbnail on the left, below. To see similar projections for an accident at the Welsh Wylfa plant, click on the other thumnails. The middle map shows what might happen if the wind were blowing toward Manchester; the map on the right shows what could happen with the wind blowing towards London.
27 March 2006: Yes, you read it first in The Sun. Procrastinating PM Tony Blair wants to stay on at Number 10: "Mr Blair is determined to show he is no lame-duck Premier and wants to keep going to ensure his reforms are complete... He wants to oversee the beginning of a nuclear power age with new plants."
27 March 2006: Scottish secretary Alistair Darling becomes the latest Labour minister to give tacit backing to nuclear power in a speech in Scotland today.
"This is a once-and-for-all opportunity to look at all the options. I believe that it would be foolish to rule anything out in advance. And to rely on offshore or tidal sources that have yet to be developed or proven to be commercially viable is wrong and irresponsible."
Others doubt just how "open" Mr Darling's mind actually is. Richard Lochhead of the SNP claimed Labour were already pushing for nuclear power: "By turning their back on our renewable options Labour is denying Scotland the green future which would protect the environment, create jobs and secure our energy future."More from BBC News and The Herald.
19 March 2006: A story in today's Independent records cabinet minister Peter Hain's opposition to nuclear power. Hain has said it would be "significantly preferable" to move toward renewable energy.
15 March 2006: The legacy of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and its health and environmental impacts will be placed under a critical spotlight by local authorities across the UK and Ireland next week at a conference to be held at London's City Hall. The conference will examine Chernobyl's continuing impacts on the British Isles and highlight the risks of developing new nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom when alternative strategies with low environmental and health costs are available. The conference has been organized by the Nuclear Free Local Authorities network and will be hosted by the Greater London Authority on Thursday 23 March 2006.
Epidemiologist John Urquhart will present a paper to the conference exploring the long-term impacts of Chernobyl:
"Contrary to general belief, large parts of England and Wales were contaminated by Chernobyl radioactivity as bands of rain intercepted the Chernobyl cloud that swept over Britain on 2 and 3 May 1986. This may have resulted in at least 1000 and possibly as many as 2000 additional infant deaths over the subsequent period."
Stewart Kemp, Secretary of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities network, said:
"This conference will be a timely reminder that nuclear power poses very real risks. These are risks that we do not need to carry. Locally led energy generation, increased energy efficiency and more energy saving can contribute to a sustainable energy policy that provides energy security and cuts much deeper into carbon emissions."More from the Nuclear Free Local Authorities.
14 March 2006: Environmental groups in ten EU countries launched a joint campaign to prevent any return to nuclear power on Saturday. Friends of the Earth Europe claimed the coalition to be "one of the largest Europe has seen for a long time." It aims to collect 1m signatures from citizens by October 2006. The coalition is planning three action weeks from 15 April to 7 May to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The campaign responds to growing signs of a nuclear revival in the face of climate change.
Find out more and sign the petition yourself at the Million Against Nuclear website.
13 March 2006: Local councils on both sides of the Irish Sea have pledged to oppose any plans to build a new nuclear power station at Wylfa in Wales or to extend the life of the current plant at the site. Councils in the Republic of Ireland are joining the Irish government to highlight the risks a new reactor at Wylfa would pose in the light of the fact that the plant is just 60 miles from Dublin.
Welsh anti-nuclear councils are also raising their voices against a new nuclear power station at Wylfa, which they believe would undermine efforts to fight climate change by diverting resources from investment in energy conservation and renewable energy schemes. This could result in a net economic cost to Wales.
Leading anti-nuclear Councillor Tony McDermott of South Dublin County Council said:
"The nearest large city to Wylfa is not in Wales or even England, but is Dublin, the capital of Ireland, just 60 miles away across the Irish Sea. Keeping Wylfa open exposes Dublin and towns in the East of Ireland to unnecessary and unacceptable risks from pollution and accidents. Building another reactor there is out of the question."Find out more from the Nuclear Free Local Authorities.
6 March 2006: The Sustainable Development Commission, which advises the government on environmental issues, has warned that nuclear power is "not the answer" to global warming. Read more from BBC News. It also advised the Scottish Executive to stick to its anti-nuclear policy, as reported in The Scotsman. The environmental group Friends of the Earth welcomed the Commission's comments. Its director, Tony Juniper, said:
"This rational and dispassionate review of the pros and cons of nuclear power rightly concludes that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. Tony Blair and his Government must now seize the historic opportunity presented by the energy review to set the UK on course to becoming a world leader in developing a low-carbon, nuclear free economy."Download the full Commission report The Role of Nuclear Power in a Low Carbon Economy.
28 February 2006: According to a new report by the Green Party, nuclear power is an "inferior choice" for Britain's energy future. The report, co-authored by Dr David Toke, Green Party Energy Advisor, and Dr Simon Taylor, will add to the debate surrounding publication of the government's Energy Review. Green Party Principal Speaker Caroline Lucas MEP, commenting on the report said:
"Tony Blair is determined to push this country down the nuclear route, based on two arguments: guaranteeing affordable energy supply, and reducing carbon emissions. The Alternative Energy Review proves what anti-nuclear campaigners have long suspected - that even using these criteria, nuclear power is the inferior choice. It shows that a twin-pronged investment in renewable alternatives and energy efficiency and conservation measures will not only deliver greater emissions reductions than nuclear power, it will deliver them more cheaply, and all without the huge safety risks inherent in the nuclear option."Green Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor said:
"The DTI's energy review is a token effort, aimed at legitimising a pre-determined decision to commission a new generation of nuclear power stations. This report introduces some radical yet practical steps to combat emissions without expensive investment in unsustainable, uneconomic and unsafe nuclear power."Dr Toke said:
"The amount of carbon saved through 'fast tracked' nuclear power over the next 15 years will be around 28 million tonnes compared to 150 million via the cheaper measures mentioned. The non-nuclear measures cited constitute the equivalent of a reduction in annual CO2 emissions from the electricity sector of nearly 40 per cent of present levels."The full report is about 8-pages long and makes an interesting read.
27 February 2006: Pete Roche's excellent No2NuclearPower website has gone 26 better than we managed with 36 ways to stop nuclear power.
26 February 2006: The potential bill facing the government for cleaning up British Energy's nuclear liabilities has risen by almost £1bn to more than £5bn, according to an article in yesterday's Guardian. Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that city investors are positioning themselves for lucrative opportunities. According to this piece, the city mood seems to be that new nuclear power stations will definitely happen. In a leader piece, the Sunday Herald urges Malcolm Wicks not to get distracted by nuclear away from important decisions about oil and renewables.
23 February 2006: According to BBC News, energy minister Malcolm "I'm Neutral on Nuclear" Wicks has said the Scots would be foolish if they refused to have a "mature debate" about energy policy. In an interview with The Scotsman that does little to help his cause north of the border, he dismissed critics of nuclear power as "environmental fundamentalists". In the same article, Wicks lambasts gas-powered patio heaters as "environmental obscenities" and said people who used them should "go inside, wear a jumper, get a life".
20 February 2006: Environment News Service has a very good piece about George W Bush's new plan to divide Earth into countries that produce nuclear power and those that consume it. Even though the United States hasn't built any new nukes since the 1970s, Bush apparently sees nuclear power as the way forward and believes new technology can solve the problems created by older technologies.
19 February 2006: A new poll of 140 "industry experts" conducted by Mitsui Babcock reported by BBC News and others suggests closure of coal and nuclear power stations could leave the British 2012 Olympic Games in the dark. Why is this an argument for nuclear power? It isn't!
13 February 2006: BBC News site has an interesting article about the difference wind power is making to remote villages in Latin America, where "Wind energy is the most widespread renewable energy source in Argentina - and Patagonia in particular has extraordinary potential due to its strong and constant winds." As part of its Fuelling the Future feature, the same site has very interesting pieces about solar energy in Australia and Green initiatives in the United States.
8 February 2006: According to a new report from Greenpeace, energy efficiency and renewable energy need to be joined by a "decentralized" approach to energy distribution:
Traditionally our energy has been produced by large power stations under a system that wastes most of the fuel we put into it. Two thirds of all energy that goes into any conventional power station is lost as heat. Further loses are made transmitting the energy across vast distance through our old and inefficient electricity grid. Essentially, most of the energy generated by our stations is thrown away before any of us have a chance to waste it.
But there is an alternative. We can generate energy close to or at the point of use. Buildings can become power stations instead of passive consumers. Because electricity is generated close to the point of use, no energy is lost in transmission. With a combined heat and electricity system, no energy is lost as heat. If renewables are used instead of fossil fuels to generate the energy, no climate damaging emissions are produced.
7 February 2006: Today's latest, from BBC News and others, is that "1500 jobs" could be lost if the Welsh Wylfa plant closed down, with apparent knock on impacts on the Anglesey Aluminium plant. Friends of the Earth and others are disputing the job figures and impacts and point out that other forms of energy could do the job instead of Wylfa. According to FoE Cymru's Neil Crumpton, speaking to the BBC:
It's a safety case, and it's an increasingly dangerous case because the graphite cores are deteriorating year on year. We would like to see far more jobs in renewable industries, in possibly a gas power plant at Anglesey Aluminium to solve the supply concern and provide jobs in other industries. The base case is 400 jobs will be lost at Wylfa anyway whether they manage to extend it a couple of years or more,
7 February 2006: What a coincidence: according to the Financial Times: "The US Energy department on Monday proposed a broad-based nuclear plan designed to meet burgeoning domestic and world energy needs by encouraging the construction of new nuclear power plants in the US for the first time in a generation." The proposal includes a Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) to recycle spent fuel between such nuclear stalwarts as the UK, USA, France, Russia, China, and Japan. But not, of course, Iran. Or any other nasty, unpredictable countries like that. The Socialist Worker also carries an interesting article on the Iran topic by Naz Massoumi of campaign group Action Iran. CND continues to expose Britain's nuclear hypocrisy on Iran; the BBC is its latest target.
7 February 2006: More interest in "clean coal" in today's Scotsman, which describes coal as an environmentally friendly job creator. Meanwhile, the UK has become a less attractive place in which to develop renewables, according to BusinessOnline.com.
29 January 2006: Today's newspapers explore various directions for the future of Britain's energy. The Observer tips a return to sea power, while the Sunday Times talks up the benefits of coal, and an interesting selection of renewables.
25 January 2006: New statistics revealed today in a BBC online poll reveal that 82% of people asked disagree that we should build new nuclear power stations. Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, Norman Baker MP, said:
"This poll shows substantial public opposition to building new nuclear power stations. When 82% of respondents to a national poll come out against nuclear, the Government has a responsibility to sit up and take note."It is outrageous and irresponsible that Tony Blair appears to have already made up his mind before the Energy Review has barely begun. It seems that this review will turn out to be little more than a retrospective justification of the Prime Minister's wish for a new generation of nuclear build. "Nuclear energy is a lame duck.
"Nuclear is simply not a sustainable way forward and this poll shows that, even if the Government doesn't see that, the people do"
23 January 2006: According to BBC News, Trade Secretary Alan Johnson has announced that it's time to decide whether to "close... or open the door" to nuclear power. Mr Johnson has just released details of the public consultation on the government's energy review. The review, subtitled "Securing clean, affordable energy for the long-term", seems to disqualify nuclear power on all accounts: it's not clean, it's not affordable, it's not secure, and it's not a solution to climate change in the short- or the long-term. BBC news offers a quick guide to the energy consultation.
Looking for older stuff? Go to our news page.
23 January 2006: In an interview in today's Guardian, Energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, claims there are virtually no practical obstacles to a new generation of nuclear power stations being built - although he is adamant no decision has yet been made on whether to give them the go-ahead. Yeah, right Malc! Meanwhile, the Lib-Dem's shadow environment secretary, Norman Baker, has attacked latent government support for nuclear power: "The Government is all too aware that the UK can have an energy mix which keeps the lights on and secures supply that does not include nuclear power."
23 January 2006: Reacting to this morning's launch of a new energy review, Greenpeace executive director Stephen Tindale said:
"It's now clear that Ministers are asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking how Britain can make its energy system more efficient, this review is only looking at what kind of fuel we use to generate electricity. The UK has an electricity grid designed seventy years ago that wastes most of the fuel we put into it. What we need is an energy revolution, a grid that lets renewable schemes and energy efficiency measures meet their full potential. Instead the Government has launched a spin operation for nuclear power, a form of electricity generation that is the most expensive way to boil water ever devised."
Read more from the Greenpeace press release.
23 January 2006: Friends of the Earth has just announced 15 clean, safe, solutions to the problem of sustainable energy that do not require nuclear energy. According to FoE's Tony Juniper:
"UK energy policy is at a crossroads. We can tackle climate change and meet our energy needs by cutting energy waste, harnessing the power of renewables and using fossil fuels more efficiently. The Government must set us on the path to a clean, safe and sustainable future and turn its back for once and for all on the failed, dangerous and expensive experiment of nuclear power"
19 January 2006: According to BBC News, Nirex, the government's nuclear waste advisory body, is arguing that old waste from existing nuclear power stations must be properly dealt with before Britain contemplates adding to the problem with new a generation of nuclear plants. John Dalton, Nirex Corporate Communications Manager, said: "We have been generating this stuff for 50 years or so - surely we have responsibility to deal with the waste we have got now. We don't want to just be passing it on to future generations." Nirex also made the latest radioactive waste inventory available today, showing an 11% decrease in high-level waste, a 2% increase in intermediate waste, and a 35% increase in low-level waste.
18 January 2006: A Reuters piece in Planet Ark quotes interesting views from Friends of the Earth's Tony Juniper and Greenpeace's Stephen Tindale. According to Tony Juniper:
"We are going to war with the nuclear industry -- but with a positive not a negative campaign. We are not going to repeat the negative messages of the 1970s and 80s. The campaign for us is to show that the alternatives such as renewables and greater energy efficiency can work and nuclear is not necessary."
Greenpeace, which produced a whopping bit of "negative campaigning" last week (a video mockup of a jet plane crashing into the Sizewell B power station), is pushing a slightly different message: that centralised power systems are grossly inefficient. Stephen Tindale said:
"What we do not need is billions of pounds being poured into new nuclear plants that mean continuing with an outdated centralised electricity generation and distribution system."
17 January 2006: Today's Guardian carries an article reporting research by Dr Kevin Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, who rejects claims that nuclear power is the way to attack global warming: "That argument is way too simplistic. We can easily deal with climate change without nuclear power." Lots of other reports support the same conclusion. See our background page for more details.
17 January 2006: South East Essex Friends of the Earth (FoE) have just launched Option 10, "10 steps to lead us away from climate changing oil, gas and coal, to energy security and a safe and responsible future." You can help by checking out their Option 10 website and signing their petition.
13 January 2006: According to Greenpeace, millions could die in a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant. Watch their short video, Friday 13th, which provoked outrage from the nuclear industry. Also read the Greenpeace dossier on nuclear power and terrorism.
28 December 2005: Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth (FoE) are currently running an anti-nuclear campaign with Sundance Renewables, and have recently launched (Dec 05) a petition to keep new nuclear power stations out of Wales (and preferably the UK). In February 2006 they want to deliver thousands of signatures to Tony Blair, telling him in no uncertain terms that the people of Wales insist that he invests taxpayers money into safe, clean, affordable renewable energy and NOT nuclear power!
"We are very concerned about the possibility of new nuclear reactors being built in Wales, or nearby (and their related environmental impacts) and we believe that the way forward in the resolution of the current energy 'crisis' is through investment in alternative/renewable technologies, and energy efficiency - not nuclear power! (EVER!)."
More information from Pembrokeshire FoE.
28 December 2005: Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has been asked by a group of local authorities opposed to new nuclear developments to clarify whether sites in Northern Ireland could be used for the construction of nuclear power stations in future. The All Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Forum has written to Mr Hain asking him to give clear confirmation that on no account will he allow nuclear power stations be built in Northern Ireland.
Down District Councillor Margaret Ritchie, a member of the All Ireland NFLA Forum, said:
"The Strategic Energy Framework for Northern Ireland, which was published in June 2004 following extensive consultation, emphasises the role that renewable energy can play in meeting Northern Ireland's energy needs.
"There is absolutely no good reason why this should change just because Tony Blair has been seduced by the nuclear lobby into calling yet another energy review.
"What is good for Wales is good for Northern Ireland too, and Peter Hain must send out a clear message to Tony Blair that nuclear power has no place in meeting energy needs in Ireland."
17 December 2005: The Suffolk Evening Star reports growing public support for a new nuclear plant at Sizewell, although the source is a typically unreliable website poll. More from Suffolk Evening Star.
10 December 2005: Newspapers are awash with news that Britain helped Israel build its nuclear weapons in the 1960s by selling it 20 tonnes of "heavy water" (deuterium oxide - used in nuclear reactors). Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells allegedly tried to cover up the action earlier this year. More from The Guardian and BBC News.
9 December 2005: Despite overwhelming opposition to nuclear power in Scotland, scottish nuclear plants at Hunterston and Torness could stay open well beyond their sell-by dates as part of Blair's nuclear rethink, according to The Scotsman. But Stuart Hay, head of policy at Friends of the Earth Scotland, argues:
"British Energy is... talking about extending and replacing nuclear stations when our energy needs can be supplied by renewables if the political will is there. What we are saying is, 'Put the money in now' so that alternative sources like wind, hydro and biomass can eventually take over from nuclear."See also FoE Scotland's anti-nuclear campaign.
5 December 2005: Tony Blair may already have decided that the future's nuclear, but the case against nuclear power remains strong, argues energy consultant Pete Roche:
"Nuclear power would only ever be able to play a very limited role in tackling climate change, and would likely have a negative impact on other more cost effective carbon abatement measures. Whilst formidable hurdles to its revival remain - the threat of terrorism and the lack of a solution to the waste problem being perhaps the most important - there is still every chance the Government will reject the technology a second time, but it will probably need a little persuasion to do the right thing. Time to get persuading now."Check out Pete's full comment piece and read why Nuclear power is not the solution to climate change.
5 December 2005: Ynni niwcliar? Dim Diolch! Friends of the Earth Cymru is calling on Welsh politicians to declare the country a nuclear-free zone. According to FoE's Gordon James:
"Nuclear power has had fifty years to prove itself but has failed to deliver economic, safe or clean energy and has left a legacy of hazardous waste and financial costs for future generations. It is once again being promoted as a quick fix solution to an energy challenge but, in reality, amounts to no more than an expensive fig leaf to cover the embarrassment of failed attempts to make adequate reductions in carbon dioxide emissions."More from BBC News and FoE Cymru. Meanwhile, the SNP's Alex Salmond has also called for Scotland to go it alone on nuclear power.
4 December 2005: News from Reuters: A new study for UNEP (UN Environment Programme) reports that wind power has much greater potential in developing countries than previously supposed. In Nicaragua, for example, there is sufficient wind to generate as much power as roughly 40 nuclear plants.
30 November 2005: The Lib-Dems have stormed out against nuclear. In a story splashed across the Daily Mail, Charles Kennedy warns that Blair's plans would lead to a "nuclear tax" on every household of around £150 a year:
"Parliament has just had to approve a £56bn bill to clean up the waste from the nuclear power we have now. That's equivalent to an £800 bill for every person in the UK. Imagine where we would be if we could spend that kind of money on renewable energy. This energy review must set out a clear strategy for investment in clean, green renewable energy. We need a Government prepared to invest properly for our future energy needs, and to invest properly in the environment. That means proper funding for renewables, real incentives to cut demand, and concerted action to cut out waste."
Lib-Dem environment spokesman Norman Baker has criticized Tony Blair for refusing to allow a commons vote on nuclear energy: "The Prime Minister's approach shows the weakness of his position and the weakness of the arguments for increased reliance on nuclear power." He also argued that Blair is not serious about the environment.
30 November 2005: There's widespread media coverage of Blair's speech and the announcement of an energy review. Thumbs up from an editorial in the Telegraph, which describes nuclear as a "clean" and "proven" technology. A down-pointing thumb from Scotland, where 73% of people want more wind power and only 17% support nuclear; Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party reacted angrily to Blair's speech. There's been more opposition from CND. Kate Hudson, CND chair, said:
"A look at Britain's energy mix is long over due and this energy review is to be welcomed. The question is why do government and industry seem to be opting for the least safe nuclear new build option? They are looking to an unsustainable, massively expense and dangerous option. If the review is to be successful it must look at options for a safe, genuinely sustainable, global and green solution to our energy needs. Offering nuclear power as a magic solution to climate change is a dangerous distraction from addressing the fundamental issues about energy use, and safe and sustainable energy production."
29 November 2005: Tony Blair announces a review of UK energy policy that could lead to construction of more nuclear power stations. Read the press release from the DTI, a report from BBC News, and another from the Press Association. Friends of the Earth say the review must focus on clean and safe energy. According to FoE's Tony Juniper:
"The UK can meet its targets for tackling climate change and maintain fuel security by using clean, safe alternatives that are already available. But these have so far been underplayed by the Prime Minister who has fallen for the nuclear industry's slick PR campaign. The Government's Energy Review must cut through this spin, promote the clean, safe measures we know will meet our energy needs and show that nuclear power is unnecessary, as well as unsafe and uneconomic. The UK could be a world leader in developing a low-carbon, nuclear-free economy. The Energy Review must deliver a sustainable energy plan for the future. Investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy and cleaner use of fossil fuels could achieve this. Will the Government seize the opportunity, or has it already fallen for the latest nuclear con?"
29 November 2005: Greenpeace protesters have delayed the start of a speech by Tony Blair, which was set to launch an energy review that could lead to new nuclear plants. More from Greenpeace UK and BBC News. According to Greenpeace's Stephen Tindale:
"Today Blair is trying to launch a new nuclear age and we are here to stop him. Nuclear power is not the answer to climate change - it's costly, dangerous and a terrorist target." Just three years ago Blair conducted the biggest energy review in 60 years - which concluded renewable energy and energy efficiency, not nuclear, is the way forward. Today's new review is simply a smokescreen for pushing his new-found enthusiasm for nuclear power. It's like Iraq all over again Blair makes his mind up then tries to spin his decision to the British people. The real solution to climate change and energy security is a mix of efficient, safe and clean energy technologies like wind, wave, and solar. Plus we need to stop wasting energy by generating it closer to where it is consumed - Woking Council have done this and slashed their CO2 emissions by nearly 80%."
28 November 2005: "Do we really need new nuclear power stations or is the prime minister about to railroad us into a disastrous error?", asks Jonathan Leake in this article in the Sunday Times. Jonathan Leake also blew the whistle on intensive lobbying by the nuclear industry in The nuclear charm offensive, an article from the New Statesman in May 2005.21 November 2005: Tony Blair pushes for nuclear power; so does the government's chief scientific adviser Sir David King. Former environment minister Michael Meacher sees no case for a return to nuclear; Friends of the Earth, the Green Party, and CND also argue against.
November 2005: A new report from the Oxford Research Group's Options for a Safer World project is intended to persuade MPs, Government officials and the public that nuclear power should not be part of the UK's energy supply. ORG argues nuclear power presents a major threat to national and international security: it increases the risk of nuclear terrorism, and creates opportunities for states and terrorist organisations to acquire or build nuclear weapons.
November 2005: The cat's out of the bag: Tony Blair wants to build nuclear power stations in Britain again.
Egged on by the vested interests of the Confederation for British Industry (CBI), Mr Blair claims he wants to start a "debate" about energy policy.
As far as most people are concerned, the debate about nuclear power ended on 26 April 1986, when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded in the Ukraine, hurling 400 times as much radioactive fallout into the atmosphere as the Hiroshima bomb.
Mr Blair would like us to think things have moved on. But nuclear power remains slow to bring on-line and dangerous to use; nuclear waste is still impossible to dispose of safely with public approval; and nuclear energy still works out more expensive than alternative options. Fundamentally, the arguments against nuclear power remain the same.
We say: Britain has no need to construct any more nuclear power plants: together, renewable energy and energy efficiency can meet the country's needs, and reduce the impacts of climate change, in a much safer, cleaner, and more sustainable way.
The campaign to stop a return to nuclear power starts here.
23 March 2006: The 8th joint Irish and UK local authorities conference on nuclear hazards, hosted by the Mayor of London, takes place at City Hall on Thursday, 23 March 2006 and marks the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. According to the promotional letter:
Find out more from the Nuclear Free Local Authorities.
The conference will review the continuing legacy of the world?s worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine on 26 April 1986, and its continuing impact, 20 years on, upon health and the environment here in the British Isles. The conference will receive a presentation on new research about the health impacts in the British Isles.
This 8th joint Irish & UK local authorities conference on nuclear hazards will consider the safety and security issues around new nuclear construction; prospects for implementing policy for UK radioactive wastes; the vulnerability of nuclear sites on the Irish Sea coast to climate change impacts; and opportunities to meet energy needs and tackle climate change without recourse to nuclear energy.
For the first time the conference will link up with Chernobyl Children's Charities and leading environmental and energy campaigners for joint morning plenary presentations. In the afternoon each sector: local government; charities; and campaigners, will separate and hold their own meetings within City Hall.
Policy on nuclear energy and nuclear waste impacts on the environment of the British Isles as a whole. This conference offers a unique opportunity to be thoroughly briefed about these key policy issues and about how to engage with them. Places are limited and early registration is recommended.
26 August-4 September 2006: A huge camp is being organised to bring people together to: take action against climate change; provide information on climate change and its causes; share and live practical solutions; network with other people campaigning on all the aspects of climate change. The camp will be in the North of England from 26th August to 4th September, 2006. Organisation is starting now. Find out more.