Stop Hinkley Press Release
10th January 2008
Response to Hutton announcement
Stop Hinkley has responded with disappointment at the Government's formal announcement to allow a new fleet of reactors with Hinkley a favoured site.
The Business Secretary John Hutton formally invited private companies to "bring forward" their plans to build nuclear reactors but campaigners said that there was nothing to stop them doing so before now except the enormous cost that has prevented privately built reactors anywhere in the world up to now.
Hutton claimed the building cost would not be subsidised by the taxpayer but refused to answer Lib-Dem Leader Steve Clegg when he asked him to give a cast-iron guarantee this would be the case if nuclear companies ran into trouble and regarding decommissioning and waste costs.
On the crucial question of managing nuclear waste, John Hutton said that existing facilities were adequate in the short and medium term. This contradicts the recommendations of CoRWM the Government committee who pressed for an immediate security-led review of current waste measures which has not yet occurred. In 2004 Patricia Hewitt then Environment Secretary was pushing the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management for a quick solution to nuclear waste due to fears of terrorism.
On this morning's BBC Today programme it was revealed the Government was going to announce burying the waste stockpile off the Cumbrian coast. As an international agreement exists preventing such dumping, the Government may have decided to pull back from this controversial announcement. But it still leaves them with no answer to the problem while advocating a plan that would increase the amount particularly of High Level Waste. The government had always promised to solve the waste issue before backing more nuclear reactors.
Hutton said the Government would not put a limit on the number of reactors that could be built although insiders suggest it's not likely to be anywhere near the ten plants put forward in 2002 as nuclear equipment is scarce. World-wide only two foundries exist capable of building reactor pressure vessels and reactor cooling pumps have a six-year waiting list.
Recent public debates seem to have come out in favour of detractors of nuclear power with Tuesday's Newsnight a good example. Jeremy Paxman voiced surprise at hearing that no reactors had ever been built without public subsidy from Tom Burke, Director of Third Generation Environmentalism. Sir Bernard Ingram and another pro-nuclear panellist could not deny the charge. Nor could they deny Burke's point that nuclear would not help the predicted energy gap in 2015 as plants will not come on stream till 2020 at the earliest. Burke also made the point that nuclear will not replace an impending reliance on oil and gas as these are mostly used for transport and space-heating which nuclear could not affect.
Sir Steven King on the Today programme this morning tried to rescue nuclear's role vis-a-vis transport by astonishingly predicting that by 2020 most cars would be electrically powered, requiring nuclear for their current top-ups. This point may have shaken the automobile industry but has not entered Government consultations on energy nor is it yet Government policy.
A group of fifteen Stop Hinkley supporters gathered near Hinkley this lunch-time to voice their opposition to the announcement. Together with Stop Hinkley members were representatives from other environmental groups who are not convinced at all of the environmental claims for nuclear power:
Jim Duffy, spokesman for Stop Hinkley said: "Hutton has said nothing new in expressing his wish for companies to build reactors except his dreamy statement they could be unlimited in number where he is out of touch with the limit of available equipment.
"But importantly the problem of nuclear waste hasn't budged an inch and I doubt whether the West country families would accept the radiation risk of a high level nuclear dump against the jobs advantage of nuclear construction.
"Hutton said the evidence for nuclear was compelling but at best it's divided and the arguments on energy security and climate-change are being won by the true environmentalists who say renewables would be quicker, cheaper and cleaner at filling the 2015 energy gap and nuclear would suck up the money for the renewables project."
Charlie Graham, Stop Hinkley Campaigner who led the protest at Hinkley said: "This plan is like asking the white elephant to lay the golden egg!"
Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator, 07968 974805