Friday, December 30, 2005

icWales - Secret plan for nuclear power plant

icWales - Secret plan for nuclear power plant


Dec 30 2005
Martin Shipton, Western Mail

A SECRET plan for a new nuclear power station in Wales has been hatched in Westminster.
The UK Department of Energy privately wants a nuclear power station to be built on Anglesey, a senior Government source has told us.
Although the official line is that Britain's future energy requirements are merely under review, it is understood that Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks has already decided that new nuclear power stations should go ahead, including one at Wylfa.
An existing nuclear facility at the site is due to be decommissioned in 2010.
Any attempt to build a new nuclear power station in Wales would be met by fierce resistance. But although the National Assembly would be likely to oppose such a development, energy supply is not a devolved matter and any decision about a proposed nuclear power station in Wales would be taken in London.


The Government source said, "We are convinced that nuclear power has to be part of satisfying Britain's future energy needs.
"It makes sense to build a new power station at Wylfa, because there is one there already. That will make the process simpler."
Hugh Richards, of the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance, said, "Opposition to this will be implacable and united, will encompass members of all political parties and will prevail.
"If the Government seeks to pursue this course, I have no doubt that the campaign would involve civil disobedience.
"The Government has streamlined the arrangements for large planning inquiries, and the thinking is, that this has been done to make it easier to build new nuclear power stations. What they would like is an inquiry that concentrates on issues like what colour the gate should be painted. We will be demanding a proper inquiry that looks at first principles.
"Tony Blair, who for some reason has been convinced that nuclear power is needed, has a dilemma. He has to explain why the energy review his Government published just two years ago was wrong.
"That review concluded it would be unwise to invest in hugely expensive new nuclear power stations, instead recommending that the emphasis should be on energy saving and tapping into renewable energy sources like wind and wave power. The only thing that has changed since is that suicide bombers have engaged in terrorist attacks in Britain.
"Tony Blair will also find a lot of opposition to his nuclear plans within his own party, from backbenchers and even Cabinet Ministers. Peter Hain is on the record opposing new nuclear power stations. He isn't a mug, unlike some politicians who out of laziness have been duped into believing that nuclear power is the way to attain Britain's carbon emission targets.
"Slightly more savvy politicians are saying there needs to be an energy mix, with nuclear as one of the components. But that argument doesn't stand up to scrutiny either - the fact is that from an investment point of view, it's a question of either/or.
"If some nuclear power stations go ahead, investors just won't put their money into renewables."
Mr Richards said there would also need to be a high level of scrutiny of any specific nuclear proposal.
"Apart from the objection in principle to nuclear installations of any kind, there are concerns about the new kinds of reactor that may be proposed. One point that came out of the Sizewell B inquiry (into the building of a nuclear power station in Suffolk) was that in Britain it is expected that there will be more than one way of shutting down a plant if something goes wrong. The insistence that should be the case is the main reason why the cost of building Sizewell B doubled.
"The new generation of reactors like the AP100, which has been promoted by George Bush, have only one close-down mechanism. Because investors haven't been prepared to put money into building them, there is no data available on which to base any kind of assessment on how they operate."
Mr Richards said that as well as Wylfa, his group was extremely concerned that a new nuclear power station could be built at Hinckley Point in Somerset, where a previous reactor closed down five years ago.
Mr Richards said, "There are 2.5 million people living within 35 miles of Hinckley Point, 900,000 of whom are in South Wales.
"The question any politician should ask is whether they have the will to push through a nuclear programme over a period of 15 to 20 years, which is what it would take. I have no doubt that during that time there will be an attempted terrorist attack on a nuclear power station somewhere in the world. There may even be a successful attack. Instead of going down that path, we should be cutting our energy consumption now and investing for the future in renewables."
Only last month the Prime Minister hinted strongly that nuclear power was on his agenda, saying, "With some of the issues to do with climate change, and you can see it with the debate about nuclear power, there are going to be difficult and controversial decisions government has got to take.
"In the end it has got to do what it believes to be right in the long-term interests of the country. About energy security and supply, that will mean issues that are bound to be extremely controversial."

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