Green reaction: Environmentalists express dismay at 'a huge mistake'

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The Independent Online

Environmental groups reacted with dismay at the plan to go ahead with a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Friends of the Earth's director, Tony Juniper, described the conclusion of the Energy Review as a "huge mistake" and a "disaster". He said: "Nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary. We can tackle climate change and meet our energy needs through clean, safe technologies."

Mr Juniper said the British taxpayer would be left to pick up the nuclear bill, and called for a new climate change law requiring annual reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

Greenpeace's executive director, Stephen Tindale, blamed the Prime Minister's personal "fixation" with nuclear power for "fatally undermining" green energy policy. "When Tony Blair leaves office Britain can get on with tackling climate change and fostering energy security without reaching for the technologies of the past. Blair fixed his own energy review to make it a manifesto for nuclear power," he said.

The Green Alliance director and former Defra special adviser Stephen Hale said the Government's support for nuclear power would deter investment in other forms of energy. "Climate change is the pretext for the Government's position on nuclear. But a rethink of the aviation White Paper would be far more effective as part of a climate strategy," he said.

Even the Government's principal advisory body, the Sustainable Development Commission, chaired by Jonathon Porritt, said it was "very disappointed" by the decision to back a new nuclear programme.

Welcoming some of the proposals on renewable energy, Mr Porritt said: "The principal challenge now is delivery, not further policy refinement."

The Green Party spokesman, Keith Taylor, said the Government was living in a "fool's paradise" in its attempt to use nuclear power to combat climate change.

"[Nuclear] eats up cash - which could be far more effectively used elsewhere - and it already has high carbon emissions from construction and fuel processing. Indeed, the limited supplies of high-grade uranium will soon be exhausted, forcing exploitation of lower grade uranium sources - raising both costs and carbon emissions even further."

Paul Jefferiss, head of environment policy at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, warned that wildlife sites should not be sacrificed to make way for wind farms. "Any statement of national renewables need should be accompanied by a strategic environmental assessment," he said.