Monday, October 03, 2005

Call for 'mature' debate on nuclear power - Call for 'mature' debate on nuclear power

The decision on whether to build a new generation of nuclear power stations will have to be made "pretty soon", trade secretary Alan Johnson has said.

Johnson said that he intended to publish proposals next year with a view to starting a "mature" public debate before the government makes a final decision on whether to go ahead.

In an interview with BBC1's Sunday AM programme, he described himself as "still agnostic" on the issue, despite Tony Blair's apparent enthusiasm for the new plants.

However, he emphasised many environmentalists were now coming round to the idea that nuclear power could provide an alternative to fossil fuels responsible for the "greenhouse" gases which cause global warming.

"What I am absolutely sure about is that we have to make a decision pretty soon if we are going to have nuclear new-build," he said.

"Because all of our nuclear power stations will be retired over the next 20, 25 years, we have to make a decision now whether to replace them as part of that general policy to concentrate on the effect on the climate, concentrate on security of supply and affordability for the customer.

"What we really need is to have a proper mature debate about this issue.

"Many environmentalists now accept that the more we increase renewables, we are just running to catch up because as nuclear energy diminishes we are losing a form of CO2-free emissions."

Johnson said that he had not ruled out a possible sell-off of the British Nuclear Group, the nuclear reprocessing business by its parent company, BNFL, to a foreign buyer.

He also acknowledged that, as the CBI has warned, some companies could face power black-outs if there was a very harsh winter this year, although he stressed that domestic consumers would not be affected.

"If we have a one-in-fifty winter, a very, very bad winter some of the most energy-intensive companies may need to decide whether to switch off their power for some time," he said.


Post a Comment

<< Home