Monday, February 13, 2006

Tories move away from nuclear power

Party Politics news : Tories move away from nuclear power

Alan Duncan has today indicated that the Conservatives may end their traditional support for nuclear power, as he launched the party's energy review. The shadow trade and industry secretary said the Tories under David Cameron now have "no fixed opinion about nuclear energy". Mr Duncan's comments are the latest effort by the party to persuade voters of their green credentials, which began with the launch of the quality of life policy group headed up by editor of the Ecologist, Zach Goldsmith. Last month, the Tories joined forces with the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the DUP to form a climate change coalition, committed to introducing annual targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Although the government is not part of this coalition – Tony Blair believes these targets would be too restrictive – it has made much of its record on environmental issues, and in particular of keeping the issue on the international agenda. However, ministers' refusal to rule out building more nuclear power plants in their forthcoming energy review has enraged green campaigners. Today's announcement by the Conservatives is a clear step into traditional Labour ground. "The days when it was the left wanting renewables and the right wanting nukes aren't as simple and clear-cut as that," Mr Duncan told The Daily Telegraph. He said that any decision about nuclear power would have to take into account costs of decommissioning power stations, adding: "Some people in the party are very pro-nuclear, some are very anti. We are going to look at the facts." Britain currently has 12 nuclear power stations, providing 22 per cent of electricity, but this will fall to just three stations by 2020 unless they are replaced. A decision must be taken soon, as stations take up to a decade to build. The new Conservative energy review will look at how fossil fuels can be made cleaner, the role of energy efficiency measures in reducing demand, and the environmental impact and economics of renewable energy and nuclear power. "Energy represents one of the greatest challenges facing politicians today," Mr Duncan wrote in the foreword of the review's website, "The UK must take urgent decisions to ensure the future security of our supplies and the protection of our environment while dealing with affordability against a backdrop of rising fuel prices."


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