Letter: Wake up call from the nuclear dream

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The Independent Online
From Dr Patrick Green

Sir: Charles Arthur's claim that British Energy's decision to abandon the proposed Sizewell C and Hinkley C nuclear reactors is bad for the UK economy (Analysis; "Nuclear pull-out poses threat to the economy", 12 December) ignores some simple economic facts.

Far from justifying its existence in the public sector, nuclear power was killed because it cannot survive without massive public subsidy. The Government's May 1995 White Paper, The Prospects for Nuclear Power, made it transparently clear that there are no strategic, industrial or environmental arguments which can be substantiated to justify such continued subsidy.

Quite simply, every billion pounds spent subsidising a new nuclear power station is a billion pounds that could be spent more cost-effectively elsewhere. Pound for pound, investment in energy efficiency can lead to twice as many jobs created as investment in nuclear power. Energy efficiency is a far more cost-effective way of combating climate change than nuclear power.

In the medium to long term, renewable energy offers a more sustainable and cost-effective means of meeting the UK energy's needs without the environmental impact of fossil-fuel burning or nuclear power. Wind energy is already cheaper than nuclear power and does not produce a legacy of nuclear waste that will remain hazardous for timescales transcending human experience.

New nuclear power stations will only add to the nation's existing legacy of nuclear waste for which no permanent solution exists. The new station would produce radioactive waste during its operating life and would need to be decommissioned at the end of it, or some 50-100 years thereafter. The UK's nuclear waste management and decommissioning bill currently stands at around pounds 40bn.

Continued investment in nuclear power would therefore be distinctly bad for the UK economy and is not necessary. It is time to wake up from the nuclear dream, Mr Arthur.

Yours sincerely

Patrick Green

Senior Energy

Nuclear and Climate


Friends of the Earth

London, N1

12 December