Stop Hinkley Press release
Green Party top speaker: 'nuclear is not the answer'
The Principle speaker for the Green Party began a national Climate-Change tour in Bridgwater on Monday with the message that nuclear power is not the answer to global warming problems or our energy needs.
Keith Taylor told the audience in Trinity Hall that with recent gas price hikes, the public is thinking of saving costs. With the political will, we could turn the threats of climate change and energy security into an opportunity and develop clean renewable energy while reducing our electricity demands.
On global warming he said the UK is now adding 5.5% more CO2 to the atmosphere than when the Labour party came to power in 1997and will miss its 2010 target. But sadly while a massive £6.8 billion has gone into nuclear fission research only £540 million went into renewable energy research since 1974.
Timing is one crucial issue concerning nuclear power, as a new programme of power stations would make no difference by 2020 when we should have made significant reductions in our harmful carbon emissions. The earliest the first reactor could be built would be 2015 with 1 Gigawatt of power coming on stream per year afterwards. Even building nine reactors would eventually reduce our carbon emissions by only eight per cent.
Costs had much uncertainty about them but that of just decommissioning Sellafield and Magnox reactors last week shot up to £70 billion. The whole investment required is too much for too little return.
Moreover, a commitment to nuclear would land us with an inflexible centralised electricity system for another 50 years, just when small scale and home energy production could take hold. Networks lose £900 million per year as lost heat through electricity transmission from big, remote coal and nuclear power stations.
Mr Taylor said that nuclear was not carbon-free in any case as uranium mining, transport, decommissioning and waste management all require much fossil fuel energy. He outlined his safety concerns saying that Chernobyl had left six million living in contaminated areas, whilst 30,000 had died as a result of the accident according to the United Nations.
He put forward the case for renewable energy. Wind power was certain to achieve 3,000 Megawatts by 2010, reducing gas imports by 45 days in a year. With wave energy we have half the wave energy potential of the whole of Europe. With solar other countries were speeding ahead: Japan's early target for home solar panels is 400,000 whilst that of the UK is a mere 6,000. Biomass has much exciting potential in different forms.
Energy conservation has the easy potential to reduce thirty percent of our energy use with improved laws on housing insulation, greater use of low energy light bulbs and removing TV standby-switches.
On the plus side, London plans to have 7,000 solar panels and small turbines by 2020. Mr Taylor felt the initiatives were useful but piecemeal and needed joined up thinking and political will. The current energy review is the moment to act.
Jim Duffy, spokesman for Stop Hinkley, said: "Keith's message is crystal clear - it would be a big mistake and a wasted opportunity to revive the nuclear industry. With rising costs it makes pure sense to go to renewables and deploy measures to save our precious energy."
About twenty attended the meeting, hosted jointly by Sedgemoor Green Party and Stop Hinkley.
Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley
L to R: Charles Graham of the Sedgemoor Green Party, Keith Taylor, Principle Speaker of the Green Party, and Jim Duffy of Stop Hinkley.