Nuclear Power No Answer to Climate Change: Hinkley Point – Dawn Blockade

NUCLEAR POWER IS NO ANSWER TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Dawn blockade leaves nuclear workers locked out

At 6 am. this morning 10 protestors blockaded access to EDF energy’s nuclear sites at Hinkley Point, preventing the morning shift from starting work. Four people in arm-locks formed a barrier across the main access road at Wick Moor Drove in a bid to prevent further ground clearance work at the planned Hinkley C site and to protest at EDF’s plan to extend the life of ageing reactors at the Hinkley B station.

Sitting beneath a banner saying “Nuclear Power – not worth the risk”, Bristol tree-surgeon Zoe Smith said, “We want the destruction of land at the proposed Hinkley C site to stop. EDF still don’t have planning permission for the new nuclear plant, the governments energy policy is in tatters. With Centrica pulling out and the long awaited Electricity Reform Act delayed, there is not even enough investment to finish the project. If the Tories fix the electricity price for nuclear so that the project can go ahead it will leave a radioactive waste dump here for hundreds of years.” The early morning blockade caused long tailbacks for scores of workers contracted in to perform maintenance work on the the existing reactors at Hinkley B, EDF have signalled their intention to re-licence the reactor again in 2016.

Bridgwater mum Nikki Clark from South West Against Nuclear said, “Not only do we not need new nuclear, we certainly don’t need to extend the life of the existing reactors even further. Just this year alone reactor no 4 in the B station has scrammed at least three times. EDF like to call these emergency shutdowns ‘unplanned outages’ , but this deliberately conceals the fact that these ageing

reactors are now in a dangerous condition. In 2008 the regulators threatened British Energy with closure of the site. The reactors do not have any fewer cracks in the graphite core now than they did then. Do we have to have our own Fukushima here in Somerset before we abandon this insanity and embrace a renewables revolution in the UK?”

Stop Hinkley spokesperson Theo Simon said, “We support this protest. New nuclear is dead in the water. We need public investment in a renewables revolution which could create a million climate jobs and cut energy bills through a programme of home insulation and energy-efficiency. With its massive marine energy resource, West Somerset is perfectly placed to lead the way in renewables, but EDF’s plans would turn it into a toxic waste dump for our grandchildren.”

http://southwestagainstnuclear.wordpress.com/ 1)

Campaigns such as this are necessary to alert the public, where mainstream media fails us. Dirty Fossil Fuels and wasteful use of energy is churning out carbon dioxide at levels which is catastrophic for the planet. The scientific evidence is clear. To deny it is foolish, and those responsible for funding the argument against fossil fuels are the most foolish of all. The corporate power is nothing – against the power of nature which they seek to deny. Labour Leader Ed Miliband knows this, and it will be at the forefront of Labour’s manifesto. The Liberal Party have sold out any pretence for green issues, and I am at a loss to understand why the Green Party in my constituency stood down at the General Election in favour of the LibDems who support this government. The Coalition government’s policies are short-sighted and foolish. Like ostriches, they seek to deny the truth, and like headless chickens, they panic but will not address the issue. I believe the Labour Party are committed to addressing Climate Change.

3) Labour’s leader, Ed Miliband, said:

“David Cameron promised that this government would be the greenest government ever. But this government is not up to the task. We now have a Minister for Energy who is against building new wind turbines – and a government that has delayed crucial decisions on the Green Investment Bank and de-carbonisation targets.

“George Osborne is trying to undermine the Climate Change Act, leading the dash for gas, and pandering to the climate sceptics on the back benches. We even had the spectacle of the campaign manager for one of their by-elections conspiring with the anti-wind farm candidate, and undermining their own candidate.

“Already billions of pounds in investment is going elsewhere or being put on hold. Thanks to this government, the investors who want to invest in our green sector are shutting their wallets or going elsewhere. Since this government came to power, investment in renewable energy hasn’t gone up, it hasn’t even stagnated – it has halved.
When we were in government, we passed the Climate Change Act which gave those investors the certainty they needed to invest. We take climate change seriously. We all have a responsibility to act now rather than expect our children to suffer the consequences. Only this week the World Bank talked of catastrophic flooding, droughts, and millions of deaths if climate change is not addressed.

“Other countries around the world are watching to see whether Britain signs up to the 2030 decarbonisation target. We are not getting leadership from this government in Westminster. All we get is dither and delay.

To the current government, if it is not too late to avert global catastrophe, we must insist on alternatives for energy sources than deriving energy from carbon producing fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas.
Yet the government’s policy:

  1. Encourages a dash for use of gas as a fuel source, (4)

  2. Supports more gas trapped in shale by fracking, with disastrous geological consequences (5) which could cause earthquakes.

  3. Suggests CCS (6) as a clean-coal option (when in reality it will release further methane into the atmosphere, and is not feasible anyway)

  4. Plans to build new nuclear power stations despite the dangers of from contamination by waste, of the dangers of nuclear weapon development, and environmental damaged as evidence by Chernobyl (7) and Fukushima. Ironically, they are encouraging support from the Japanese firm Hitachi. (8)

  5. Is influenced by lobbyists 9) who profit financially from energy corporations.

  6. Proposes to delay Carbon reduction targets until 2016. (10)

The recent Hurricane Sandy, and floods in the UK (11) in Autumn 2012, may be wake up calls for some. In Devon a canal constructed 200 years ago, broke its banks and may be lost forever – indicators that climate change is a reality. ( some scientific evidence here (12).

The solution is to limit energy use, and to invest in renewable energy, which will provide jobs for many and once installed has minimal maintenance costs compare with nuclear and fossil fuels. Energy requirements can be met by wind, solar, wave, HEP, geothermal and tidal. Germany is rejecting nuclear power (15) , yet the UK lags behind. While on a similar latitude to Germany, the Uk has additional resources Germany does not have. There is an enormous source of tidal power at the mouth of the River Severn, and coasts surrounds our islands which could harness wave power. We need to act, and act now, not procrastinate for future governments and our grandchildren, in order to for some to profit today.

We reject nuclear power as an alternative. A major problem is the disposal of dangerous nuclear waste which remains radioactive for centuries. It is not acceptable that we leave our dirty waste for those yet unborn, potentially exposing future generations to the horrific effects of dangerous radioactive waste.

The issue with nuclear waste is that serves no peaceful purpose, yet remains dangerous for many centuries and continues to emit radiation. No matter how we are reassured of the safety of Nuclear Power, accidents happen, and accidents are more likely happen when costs are cut, where profit is the motive.

Support for nuclear energy on financial grounds is flawed. EU calculations for financing nuclear expansion for mining of Uranium in the Ukraine ignores the cost of disposal of the toxic waste 20). Following Fukushima, the The World Bank estimated the cost of the nuclear crisis at $235bn (£144bn) (17, 18, 19)– making it one of the world’s most expensive disasters.

There is also the risk of further accidents occurring in nuclear power stations whether caused by human error as in Chernobyl, or by natural disasters, as in Fukushima as seen in Japan, which resulted from an earthquake.

Nuclear waste can continue to emit radiation for centuries, and it could potentially become unstable, if handled and stored improperly, setting off a chain reaction which could create a nuclear accident. If it fell into the wrong hands, it could be used to make a dirty bomb, which could spread radiation over an inhabited area. Nuclear waste storage focuses on finding safe and secure ways to store spent nuclear fuel and other forms of nuclear waste, until they have stabilized enough to pose no threat to humans, wildlife, and the environment.

Without doubt, we must halt the damage to the world’s climate by the use of carbon-emitting fuels. But to look from one disaster to another is ludicrous, and unnecessary. That we should risk accidents, from geological disaster or terrorism, a dependence on nuclear energy for the future is madness. The risk to life is so huge it should not be contemplated.

  1. South West Against Nuclear
  2. http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/711990
  3. Labour Party: Ed Miliband: By Tackling Climate Change we can be better off together
  4. Guardian Government supports Gas for power
  5. RT: Fracking hell: UK government set to green light risky gas drilling
  6. Think Left: Think Left: Clean Coal (Another Financial Device for the City?)
  7. BBC: Chernobyl: Wildlife study 25 years on
  8. ITV Boost to Britain’s nuclear plans
  9. Guardian Energy Bill and Carbon Target delayed until 2016
  10. The Lost Democracy and the role of Think Tanks
  11. BBC: Man dies and transported disrupted by England’s storms
  12. Think Left Some of the Scientific Evidence – Climate Change
  13. Lessons from Japan: Left Futures
  14. No2NuclearPower
  15. BBC: Germany announces non-nuclear
  16. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13592208
  17. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/11/japanese-tsunami-survivors-search-for-mementos
  18. Fukushima: Lethal Levels workers never allowed home
  19. Fukushima Workers find ultra high radiation levels
  20. Think Left: The Energy Trap
  21. EU: Ignoring safety risks in financing nuclear expansion in Ukraine
  22. Think Left: Energy or Tidal
  23. Greenpeace: Why do some Energy Companies support decarbonisation while others support it?

SCANDAL: there’s another toxic plot in the Conservative party

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‘Nothing happens in politics by accident’

Greenpeace’s undercover reporter has taped senior Tories openly acknowledging the ‘plot’ to undermine the coalition agreement on tackling climate change.  In the recorded interview, Peter Lilley is clearly heard recommending that the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Liberal Democrat Ed Davey, should be the focus of anti-windfarm attacks, and agreeing that George Osborne would sanction such undermining.

This yet again, raises the question of why are the LDs supporting the Tories to dismantle, and privatise for profit, everything that was good about the UK?

Furthermore, why hasn’t John Hayes been sacked for working against his minister?  And when is Caroline Flint, shadow minister for energy, going to get stuck in to make the overwhelming case for renewable energy?

SCANDAL: there’s a toxic plot in the Conservative party

Published on Nov 13, 2012 by 

WATCH MORE UNDERCOVER CLIPS: http://greenpeace.org.uk/energygate  Our undercover investigation has revealed a militant group of Conservative MPs trying to sabotage progress on climate change.

 What the papers say:

Greenpeace said that one of its activists held two meetings with Mr Heaton-Harris during October, pretending to be an anti-wind campaigner.

The group said the MP appeared to suggest that he had contrived Mr Delingpole’s potential candidacy in Corby to sway Conservative ministers over energy policy.

In the first meeting, at the Conservative Party conference, Greenpeace said undercover footage shows Mr Heaton-Harris admitting to encouraging Mr Delingpole to stand.

The MPs’ words on the footage are unclear, but he can be heard asking the activist never to reveal the conversation, saying: “Please don’t tell anybody ever.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/13/tory-mp-corby-anti-windfarm-film

 

This story doesn’t primarily concern Delingpole and the by-election; it’s really about a split within the coalition on wind farms and the Tories’ long-term electoral tactics. Heaton-Harris says of John Hayes in the video:

‘He’s a man in a department which absolutely hates him [but] there’s enough support in Cabinet to keep him there and at the moment it’s quite active on the issue.’

The department in question is led by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat. He and Hayes have clashed over wind farms again this week, with Hayes saying that is ‘job done’ with onshore wind. Hayes’ supporters in Cabinet include the Chancellor, who is reported (by the well-connected Ben Brogan writing in mid-June of this year) to believe that halting onshore wind farm construction is a vote winner in marginal rural and semi-suburban constituencies like Corby. It is, therefore, not wholly surprising to discover that the Tories were courting independent campaigners like Delingpole (who UKIP were also after to mount an attack on the Tories from the right) while they were refashioning their posture on the issue; but it is slightly surprising to find them getting caught doing so. Then again, perhaps it isn’t.

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2012/11/tories-in-trouble-in-corby-over-wind-farms/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tories-in-trouble-in-corby-over-wind-farms

Is Ed Davey’s energy bill really turning Blue, Green?

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Open letter to Ed Davey on Draft Energy Bill

Open letter from SGR to Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, on the Draft Energy Bill and wider UK energy policy. The letter makes four main criticisms: insufficient curbs on greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuel plants; favouritism towards the nuclear industry; inadequate support for the renewable energy industry; and failure to prioritise energy conservation.

First posted on 19 July 2012

Rt. Hon. Edward Davey, Secretary of State
Department for Energy and Climate Change
London

Dear Sir

Open letter on Draft Energy Bill and wider energy policy

We write on behalf of Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), a UK organisation with 1000 members drawn from across the science, design and technology professions, and with a concern for peace, social justice and environmental sustainability.

We wish to add our voice to the widespread criticism of the Draft Energy Bill, published in May, and also highlight our broader concerns about current UK energy policy. In summary, our concerns are the following.

• Insufficient curbs on greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuel plants. We note with considerable disappointment that the Bill has set an Emissions Performance Standard for new electricity generating plant at the unambitious level of 450 g/kWh, and that such power stations would be subject to the level until 2045 (Section 36). We are also very concerned by loose wording regarding exemptions for projects intending to use Carbon Capture and Storage technology (Section 37), which we firmly believe could be used to side-step restrictions for new unabated coal-fired plant. Both these factors are highly likely to undermine attempts to meet carbon reduction targets under the Climate Change Act. As the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recently noted,1 such shortcomings could be remedied by including an explicit target for a reduction in carbon intensity in the electricity sector – of no more than 50 g/kWh by 2030. We strongly urge you to insert such a target in the Bill.

• Favouritism towards the nuclear industry. The system of proposed incentives for building new low carbon plant is, in our view, strongly geared towards supporting new nuclear power over renewable energy technologies, and creating ways to side-step the commitment not to subsidise nuclear power. We have numerous concerns about nuclear power, but perhaps the most pertinent to the current situation is the poor progress being made with current new nuclear plant construction in Western countries – specifically, Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France (both many years behind schedule and massively over-budget) – coupled with spiralling estimates of build costs, more generally.2 Government cost estimates – and indeed those quoted by the CCC – do not seem to reflect such real world experience and we strongly urge the government to reconsider such support mechanisms. The key problem in our view is the current proposal for Feed-in Tariff with Contracts for Difference (FiT-CfDs). While a strong case may be made for support mechanisms for new technologies as they move towards commercialisation, to use such a mechanism for established technologies such as nuclear power seems deeply illogical – as well as being a clear breach of the coalition government’s commitment not to subsidise nuclear power. And for these mechanisms to lock the consumer into supporting such technologies for as much as 25 years (compared with only 15 years for renewable energy projects) is high risk. Coupled with numerous other measures which benefit only the nuclear industry – not least favourable insurance conditions and fixed unit pricing for radioactive waste disposal – this mechanism as currently planned has, in our view, little to justify it. We therefore call on the government to exclude nuclear power from the FiT-CfD system.

 Inadequate support for the renewable energy industry. There is a distinct lack of ambition shown by the government for the expansion of renewable energy in the UK. We have an enormous indigenous resource base – especially wind and marine – and costs are falling rapidly – especially in technologies such as onshore wind and solar photovoltaics. Employment opportunities in these areas are large and growing. The government is aware of all of these factors and yet has responded recently with over-zealous and poorly organised cuts to solar energy tariffs and with such lukewarm support for wind power that Vestas has cancelled its plans for a wind turbine factory in Kent which would have employed nearly 2,000 people. In general, the control framework set up for DECC spending on renewables is too restrictive3 – especially when compared with the generosity shown to the nuclear industry. Given the transitional nature of the financial support needed as these technologies move towards a more competitive position – unlike that for nuclear power – we strongly urge the government to shift its position and provide significantly more financial support to key renewable energy industries.

• Failure to prioritise energy conservation. We have been very disappointed by the government’s proposed Green Deal, which in our view is also unambitious. While improvements have been made recently, it still seems very unlikely to exploit the enormous potential for reducing domestic energy demand in the UK. Indeed, compared with existing energy efficiency schemes, analysis suggests that it will be markedly less effective.4 Two key flaws in our view are a low level for the ECO subsidies, and a lack of timeliness in issuing documentation to allow the businesses expected to deliver the scheme to forward plan. However, we believe that the problems with policy on energy conservation run much deeper. Here we wish to endorse the call from a recent WWF-co-ordinated study5 that argued that energy conservation be put at the heart of UK energy policy, rather than added as an afterthought. Only a fundamental shift of this nature will, in our view, deliver the combined goals of providing energy security, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling fuel poverty.

In summary, we do not understand the government’s position. The development of a low carbon economy offers the UK a real opportunity to create long term jobs through sustainable improvements of households and businesses across the UK. Government support and stronger regulation would drive a strong regeneration of the economy. In our view, there is a powerful argument to use what would amount to a small proportion of the sums for quantitative easing (which currently stand at £375bn) for direct support of a large-scale UK-wide insulation and business premises upgrade programme. Recent studies show that such a programme would pay for itself at commercial interest rates, provided funding of the order of £5-10bn can be secured for major city regions such as Leeds, and that this activity could be scaled up across the UK.6 We are aware that such proposals have been put directly to government by both CCC expert advisors in the economic sphere, and by other senior advisors to government, and we think that this is an opportunity that should be grasped for the benefit of the UK economy, our world standing as a climate change leader and would have support of the public.

Sincerely

Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director
Dr Philip Webber, Chair

Cc:
Rt. Hon. Charles Hendry, Minister of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change
Rt. Hon. Gregory Barker, Minister of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change
References

1. CCC (2012). Meeting the Carbon Budgets: 2012 progress report to parliament. http://theccc.org.uk/reports/2012-progress-report
2. For example:
The Times (2012). May 7. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/utilities/article3406852.ece
Toke D (2012). May 5 (updated June 21). http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/edfs-nuclear-plans-are-more-expensive.html 
Toke D (2012). July 16. http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2012_07_01_archive.html
3. DECC (2012). Control Framework for DECC levy-funded spending. http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/funding-support/fuel-poverty/3290-control-fwork-decc-levyfunded-spending.pdf
4. For example:
Goodall C (2011). http://www.carboncommentary.com/2012/01/03/2230
5. WWF et al (2012). Securing the UK’s power supplies.http://www.wwf.org.uk/research_centre/research_centre_results.cfm?uNewsID=6074
6. Gouldson et al (2012). The Economics of Low Carbon Cities. University of Leeds.http://www.cccep.ac.uk/Events/Past/2012/April/EconomicsLowCarbonCities-mini-stern-review.pdf

About Scientists for Global Responsibility: 

Unlike the ‘technological optimists’ SGR recognises that science, design and technology are indeed part of the problem; but, unlike those who are indifferent or even hostile to science, SGR also recognises the enormous contributions that science, design and technology make to our civilisation and wellbeing. The new problems, as well as those that have always been with us, such as starvation, drought and illness, require a combination of new scientific, economic and political solutions.

If social justice, care for the other species of this planet, and a concern for future generations have their rightful place as fundamental values, then science, design and technology can be much more part of the solution than part of the problem. Here are just a few programmes that deserve much more science, design and technology funding …

  • the clean, sustainable production of energy, and its efficient use
  • the development and application of biological and medical knowledge to the benefit of all
  • the study of social and economic affairs with the aim of improving the lot of all
  • the development of clean, efficient transport systems, in a social setting which provides needed transport for all but inhibits unnecessary travel and freight-miles
  • the use of information technology to increase energy efficiency, reduce the need for transportation, eliminate unnecessary labour, and promote access for all to humanity’s pool of knowledge
  • the design and construction of energy efficient and zero energy building.