Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Today's issue Nuclear power

Nuclear power: Today's issue� Nuclear power

Today's issue… Nuclear power
Reports today suggesting the UK's largest low-level nuclear dump - at Drigg in Cumbria - is unfit for handling future waste are fuelling the growing debate on the future of Britain's energy supply.

With oil prices rocketing and the future of gas supply uncertain, there are questions about how Britain will meet its energy needs in the years to come.

Nuclear energy offers the prospect of carbon-emission free energy, and as such was hailed by 'father' of the environmentalist movement James Lovelock as the way forward.

But the 14 nuclear power stations in the UK are coming to the end of their lifetimes with half due to be decommissioned by 2010.

Environmentalist groups question what will happen to the nuclear waste – which can be stored and not destroyed –and fear Chernobyl-style accidents.

A recent poll in the Times also showed the public supported renewable energy and not nuclear power as the answer to future energy shortages.

Government: No plans for new nuclear power plants

The government said today it had no plans to build new power plants in the future but that option had "not been ruled out". A spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry told politics.co.uk that government policy was set out in the white paper of 2003 – which stated there were no proposals for new nuclear stations but that option had been "left open". He said a decision on nuclear power stations would be made some time in this parliament. "But the focus had to be on renewable energy," he said, highlighting the "unresolved" issue of nuclear waste disposal and the costs associated with that problem. The government anticipated Britain's demand for energy being met from a variety of sources, such as gas and renewable sources.

Lib Democrats: Renewable energy the way forward

The Liberal Democrats said today they would like to see greater use of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures to meet Britain's fuel demands. A spokesman told politics.co.uk the party would like to see no new nuclear plants built once the existing ones had reached the end of their lifetimes. "The real problem with nuclear power is the cost of cleaning up the waste," the spokesman said. "Calculations have shown this could be more than £8,000 for every man, woman and child in the country." He said there were also concerns about safety of power plants – how the government could protect them from terrorist attack, for example. The answer lay in greater use of wind, wave and solar power, as well as greater fuel efficiency. "We can cut power use by one per cent if homes are more energy efficient," he said.

Lib Democrats: Renewable energy the way forward

The Liberal Democrats said today they would like to see greater use of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures to meet Britain's fuel demands. A spokesman told politics.co.uk the party would like to see no new nuclear plants built once the existing ones had reached the end of their lifetimes. "The real problem with nuclear power is the cost of cleaning up the waste," the spokesman said. "Calculations have shown this could be more than £8,000 for every man, woman and child in the country." He said there were also concerns about safety of power plants – how the government could protect them from terrorist attack, for example. The answer lay in greater use of wind, wave and solar power, as well as greater fuel efficiency. "We can cut power use by one per cent if homes are more energy efficient," he said.

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