Unions press for new nuclear stations to avert energy crisis

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Two of Britain's largest unions are to demand that the Government rethinks its energy policies and puts nuclear power back on the agenda - to prevent a looming power crisis.

Amicus and the Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G), which together have 2.1 million members, will press the point in planned meetings with the energy minister, Mike O'Brien, in the next few weeks.

The unions are worried that Britain's future reliance on imported oil and gas is unsustainable and could lead to an energy shortage in a decade.

Both unions want the Government to consider building new nuclear power stations and keep the option open for some coal-fired power generation.

"The Government's energy policies are not sustainable - we have to put it on the election agenda," said Dougie Rooney, Amicus's national officer for energy. "If the Government - and I am assuming it will be a Labour Government after the election - is still not in a position to change its policies then it will be the time to consider a more confrontational approach."

Mr Rooney said this could include balloting Amicus's 20,000 members who work in the energy sector for industrial action.

Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of the T&G, said: "The Government's energy policies are based on declining sources of supply, but as a nation we are increasing our demand. An energy crisis is inevitable unless there is new investment in nuclear power as well as renewable sources."

Both unions also want the Government to keep the door open to coal-fired power stations, by promoting clean coal technology. This could include grants to fit special filters - called FGD - to power stations to reduce emissions. The idea has the backing of the electricity industry. Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, has lobbied the Government to make changes to the forthcoming emissions trading scheme to promote the use of FGD. "It is better to reward clean coal than dirty coal," he said.