THIS summer I attended a conference: “No need for nuclear: the renewables are here”, with speakers from various universities from the UK, MPs, MEPs, a consultant on radioactivity dangers, an ecologist from the United States, and a couple of NGOs. I felt it was imperative that the public should know more on the subject of whether a new generation of nuclear power stations would serve the country well. The blunt answer is NO and that was the take home message after the conference. Let me elaborate.

The UK Government plans 16 GW from nuclear power by 2030, double what we have presently. Tax-payers will be on the hook for loan guarantees and accident liabilities, not to mention expensive electricity. The consortia are struggling to raise the equity, and one of the reactor vendors for Hinkley C has been found falsifying quality control records and is under investigation. Designs are behind schedule and budgets are running much higher. European utilities are getting out of nuclear, and EDF is the only one that is not, however the fact is that EDF has to meet the life extension of France’s nuclear power plants means it is overstretched to say the least. Many of the other new plants are facing similar problems, and as a whole the industry is looking sick.

Meanwhile the prices of renewables are falling and are much more popular with the public. Renewables do not rely on state guarantees and are not subject to the threats associated with nuclear power operation, accidents and radioactive waste. Along with the development of the smart grid, renewables can deliver a flexible and decentralised model for electricity. The very claim that only nuclear can deliver our base-load is bogus; a plant like Fukushima going down is more likely to cause the lights to go out.

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Nuclear power is not a temporary solution to arrest climate change. The nuclear cycle from mining the ore, cement production for the buildings, dealing with the waste, and decommissioning is carbon intensive. Nuclear power generates less than 15 per cent of our electricity and insulation alone would save us that, since Britain has some of the worst insulated homes.

The nuclear industry is extremely secretive and would have us believe that there is nothing to fear with nuclear power. Independent scientific research says otherwise. Science has shown what is well known, that if you add radiation to a system, genes are damaged and nutrient cycling which determines the health and productivity of ecosystems is impaired. Radioactive material also escapes into the environment in the operation of these plants when a reactor is refuelled. A plume of radioactive gas is released into the air putting local communities at risk, particularly the unborn.

Sellafield as a facility which handles all the radioactive waste in the UK is inadequate and there is still no real solution for nuclear waste. So why is the UK contemplating more nuclear power? The legacy to date of nuclear power is to place intergenerational communities and the environment at risk.

Is Trident influencing the UK’s energy policy? Nuclear power and nuclear weapons have always been coupled. Nuclear power produces three components for use in a nuclear bomb; uranium, highly-enriched plutonium and tritium. Tritium, a gas with a radioactive half life of 12.5 years is an essential component of a boosted fission nuclear device such as the Trident warhead. Its relative short half life requires its continued production. Why else are we producing electricity from nuclear power when there are better alternatives? The 122 countries that voted to ban nuclear weapons at the UN general assembly in 2017 are clearly not being listened to. Possession of these weapons only gives us a sense of false security. Their use is not independent and would be catastrophic for the planet.

Joanna Nowicki
Forres

MIGHT I suggest that Nick Cole tries an excellent small Scottish company for his .scot domain, Calico in Cromarty? Having had a .net domain name through them for many years, we found the change to .scot in early 2015 no more expensive, and the only additional expense was our choice of carrying both for one year until everyone of any importance to us had learned to use .scot. Their back-up is also excellent. Help to boost a truly Scottish business.

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