7 January 2010
Nuclear Not Needed To Keep Lights On - Government Adviser
A new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point isn't needed either to keep the lights or to combat climate change, a meeting of the Stop Hinkley campaign group was told last night (Wednesday 6 January).
Tom Burke, CBE, a government adviser on energy matters, told the meeting in Bridgwater Town Hall that Britain could carry on generating enough electricity for our needs well beyond the supposed crunch period of 2015-20, even without new nuclear stations like the proposed Hinkley C.
Any shortfall caused by old power stations closing down would be filled by over 20 gas-fired power stations either under construction or planned, he said, and by a growing wave of renewable sources and a new generation of coal stations fitted with carbon capture facilities.
If energy efficiency measures were taken as seriously as they should be, he added, there would be less demand for electricity anyway. As a prime target, British homes account for 25% of our energy use; improving their efficiency would be much cheaper than any new power generation option.
On climate change he said that nuclear was a slow and very expensive way of helping to save the planet from the expected effects of rising global temperatures. Even if nuclear power stations were built around the world at a rate of 14 Gigawatts a year this would still only replace those that were closing down. In fact, global nuclear power capacity has been falling in recent years whilst the amount of wind power has increased from 17 Gigawatts in 2000 to over 120 Gigawatts in 2008.
As an example of the cost over-runs typical of nuclear stations he cited the reactor currently being built in Finland by the same French company scheduled to install the Hinkley plant. This is already three years behind its construction schedule and the cost has risen from £2.7 to £4.8 billion.
The meeting was the first public forum in a series of campaign events planned by Stop Hinkley. Over 9,000 leaflets outlining the case against Hinkley C have been distributed door to door in the area. A protest will also be held outside EDF's Bridgwater offices on 15 January to underline the fact that there will be no local involvement in the final decision about the plant. Under a new system, all decisions on the plans will be taken by an unelected government-appointed Infrastructure Planning Commission.
Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley spokesman said: "Despite the atrocious weather conditions Professor Burke travelled all the way from London to give his talk. Local people despite the snow also turned out from as far as Bicknoller, Combwich, Wedmore and Taunton and were inspired by Professor Burke's well informed message. Many felt spurred into writing in to the Government consultation objecting to plans to needlessly build two monster reactors at Hinkley."