Response to Prime Minister’s speech on UK energy policy

Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech at the CBI annual dinner yesterday on the future of UK energy policy, Jo made the following comments:

“The Prime Minister has, disappointingly but unsurprisingly, already shown the first signs that the Government’s energy review will seek to back up his determination to press ahead with new nuclear build.

“While I welcomed some of what Mr Blair had to say, namely his comments over the need to place renewables and energy efficiency much higher on the agenda, his rhetoric on nuclear is deeply worrying.

“The case for new nuclear power has simply not been made. In terms of waste storage, a definitive solution has not been found to deal with the waste already generated. We cannot tell what the long term outcomes of deep underground storage will be, for medium and high level nuclear waste which remains toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. Taking the nuclear route is irresponsible, storing up problems for future generations.

“The reliance on foreign energy imports that the Prime Minister is keen to avoid will not disappear with nuclear power. Nuclear relies on imports of uranium, and the more nuclear power is used internationally, the more the supply will be needed from unstable states in the Middle East and Central Asia.

“Economically, nuclear is tried and tested, and has failed. Since Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, private companies have not touched nuclear, and no development has taken place without huge Government subsidy. This bill, as well as the cost of cleaning up our existing nuclear waste, will be met by the taxpayer.

“Most crucially, we have a real choice over how we generate the power we need for homes and businesses in future. Scotland has an abundant potential for renewable energy generation – a clean, safe, cheap way to meet our energy needs. New nuclear will undermine the burgeoning renewables industry in Scotland by diverting much needed investment – even the Government’s own Sustainable Development Commission points out this concern. It is a short-term choice and a path we should not follow.”

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