Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Renewable energy? More like renewable policies, it appears

Share
Related Topics

For those of us who still pronounce it "nuculer", it was pretty heavy going yesterday. I thought I'd understood what John Hutton's statement meant, but then Steve Webb for the Liberals said that he hadn't understood it and so I assumed I hadn't understood it enough to realise what I hadn't understood.

I was under the impression they were announcing the start of a government-sponsored programme to build a new generation of nuclear power stations. But in answer to Chris Mullin, the minister said what he was doing was "not ruling out this technology in perpetuity". That didn't seem quite the same thing. And how many power stations did he think there might be in 10 or 15 years? "Several" was the word he used.

It had been billed as one of the tough long-term decisions the Prime Minister had taken. Actually, I think the decision was taken four or five years ago round about the time Bruce George (I think it was Bruce George) asked Tony Blair out of a clear blue sky at the Liaison Committee whether we needed more nuclear power stations.

But Gordon Brown came in for the statement. Showing respect to Parliament. Steering the country into the long-term. Grinning wolfily at the Tories whom he had manoeuvred into agreeing with him.

His back bench didn't fall into the same trap.

Elliot Morley (ex-environment minister) asked why no energy companies had tried to open a new nuclear facility in the past decades. What had changed? Michael Meacher (ex-environment minister) noted the £5bn paid to bail the industry out of bankruptcy and the £70bn we still owe on waste disposal. Steve Webb quoted Margaret Beckett (ex-environment minister) who'd ruled out nuclear because it would mean we'd never meet our renewables target if we put the money into the other industry. John Gummer – at last, an ex-environment minister who was in favour! – but only if his constituents had their own local inspector to whom they could complain in person; failing that, they'd kill the proposals at the planning stage.

Will the Government provide a firm price for carbon? That's the key to the economics, it seems. If politicians are so fundamentally involved as to be setting prices (a practice with a colourful history) it cannot succeed. That's a "lesson to be learnt". And relearnt every generation.

Paul Flynn's bafflement played well and so did Chris Mullin's vague but convincing fear. "One reason for scepticism is the industry's long history of misleading the public and the Government about costs." He has learnt the lesson.

The minister has guaranteed not a penny of subsidy will go to the industry; the one thing we know is it will cost the taxpayer billions.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star