Nuclear Nuisance Nuclear Shambles

Winning Before They Begin

Video Credit : “RahXephon”, an almost prophetic animated tale about cataclysmic destruction in Japan

Debate about nuclear power is sucking the energy out of British civil life. There’s an atmosphere of divisiveness, and accusations of deception, and even corruption. This issue, perhaps above all others, is preventing discussion on pragmatic answers to climate change and the energy crisis.

The United Kingdom Government seems intent on fighting the nation’s population over energy policy. No thought was given to how to predict and resolve the protests against major new wind farms. No concern was given to groups protesting coal mining. Nobody with executive power considered that people might be upset about new pylons and pipelines being strewn across the landscape. There has been something of a hiatus in the granting of licences to new coal-fired power stations, partly over public opposition and partly because of questions of exactly how ready for Carbon Capture and Storage “capture ready” plants would be. However, the new Infrastructure Planning Committee’s National Policy Statements will operate on the understanding that the climate change implications from carbon emissions do not need to be taken into account in the choice of technology for new energy stations :-

“FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011 : Planning permits for new generators need not take account of carbon emissions : The Government has ruled that the Infrastructure Planning Committee, which oversees all nationally strategic developments and will make the decisions on whether proposed developments should be given the green light, need not take into account the carbon impact of a particular plant before deciding whether to approve it…”

“…The finalised Energy NPSs have been published by DECC, and, though yet to be debated in Parliament, provide a framework for planning and approving an expected £100bn of new energy infrastructure, including 33GW of new renewable energy capacity. But in its response to the consultation on the NPSs the Government says that deciding on the impact of a development in relation to the UK’s carbon budget “is a matter for wider Government intervention in energy markets, not a planning issue. Five of the NPSs cover specific technologies: fossil fuels; renewables; gas supply and gas and oil pipelines; electricity networks; and nuclear. There is also an overarching energy NPS…”

No hint of a proper national dialogue on appropriate joined-up strategies, then. It’s bound to upset people and make them feel a bit antsy and rantsy… There are several contenders for the most annoying poor choice in energy technology. Will this summer see high numbers of people demonstrating protest against shale gas ? It could be that even this extremely aggravating energy development could be topped. It appears that the highest levels of irritation are being provoked by that historically most divisive of issues – nuclear power.

Back in February, anti-nuclear protest groups were seemingly pre-empted from staging a demonstration at Hinckley Point nuclear power station :-

“Nuclear protest fails to appear : Thursday, February 17, 2011 : SPECIAL nuclear site policemen strengthened police presence at Hinkley Point power station amid activists’ threats to shut down the facility. Protest group Direct Action Protest Team used a website to organise “non-violent direct action” against Hinkley owner EDF. The group said EDF had been “bullying” the residents of Bridgwater and that it had collected expert climbers and experienced activists who were not afraid of getting arrested. The online message said devices had been manufactured specially and the protesters, backed by “an expert legal and publiciity team”, could strike from land or sea. They plan to incite a lock-down at the power station every Wednesday, including last week. Nikki Clarke, from separate, local anti-nuclear group Stop Hinkley, visited the site on Wednesday morning, February 16. She said: “It was hard to say how many police and police vehicles were there as they were dotted around. There was no sign of protestors, but the message said they could come by land or sea.” Police are maintaining a constant presence, proportionate to the threat level. EDF says knew about the message, said there had been no protests on February 16, and the station operated as normal. A company statement said: “EDF places its highest priority on the safety and security of the public, its staff, buildings and installations. “We maintain regular contact with police and other appropriate agencies, and regularly review and adjust our security procedures across our sites. In order to maintain the highest standards of security, we do not discuss operational details, but like all civil nuclear facilities in the UK, we have detailed security arrangements in place. The Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) are deployed at all EDF nuclear sites to further enhance the already robust security arrangements at all civil nuclear power stations.”…”

Well, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary may have won before the protest began that time, but nuclear power antipathy is not simply going to be made to disappear from the radar of public concern by applying the full force of authority :-

“Anti-nuclear protesters plan mass blockade of Hinkley : Thursday, 16 June 2011 : ANTI-nuclear campaigners from all over the UK are planning to converge on West Somerset later this year for a “mass non-violent blockade” of Hinkley Point. Groups across the country have united for the protests and refer to the event as a “Ghandi-style display of civil disobedience”. They openly admit they will be risking arrest by blockading the access road to the site but believe the it is a risk worth taking to get their message across to the Government. Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: “While Germany and Italy are now set against nuclear power, Britain seems to be taking almost no account of the lessons that must be learned from the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima. “If the Government pushes ahead with new nuclear plans, a wave of civil disobedience will dog construction at each site.” She warned the protest – planned for Monday, October 3 – would be the “tip of the iceberg” if the Government pressed ahead with plans to allow a third nuclear power station to be built at Hinkley Point. Andreas Speck of Kick Nuclear added: “This blockade will be the first big mobilisation against new nuclear. “This not just a fight about one proposed power station – if people power stops these plans at Hinkley Point, we will be stopping the whole programme dead in its tracks.” Campaigners who usually focus on the disarmament of nuclear weapons are also expected to join the blockade, which is being organised by the umbrella group Stop New Nuclear. The alliance of local and national groups includes the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Stop Nuclear Power Network UK, Kick Nuclear, South West Against Nuclear, Shutdown Sizewell, Sizewell Blockaders, Trident Ploughshares and Stop Hinkley. Organisers are planning to hold pre-event training sessions in the Bridgwater area to ensure the blockade is “safe, peaceful . . . and disruption to the local community kept to a minimum”…”

And this declaration of a mass turnout against nuclear power could be said to have already had a response, although indirect, from Vincent de Rivaz of Electricite de France (EdF), as he announces delays in his company’s autumn plans :-

“EDF Energy to revise new nuclear date this autumn : Tue Jul 5, 2011 : LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) – Britain’s largest nuclear power producer, EDF Energy, will announce this autumn a new date for the startup of its first new nuclear power plant in Britain, its Chief Executive said on Tuesday. “We will revise the timetable this autumn,” Vincent de Rivaz, who heads up the French utility’s UK operations, said at an industry conference in London. EDF Energy originally planned to start commercial operations at its new 1,600-megawatt nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset in early 2018, but the timetable is to be revised following regulatory delays after Japan’s nuclear crisis. The chief executive of Britain’s Centrica , which owns 20 percent in British Energy, said two weeks ago the Hinkley Point C project will be
delayed, but a new date is not yet known…”

Is it possible that the anti-nuclear protestors have won even before they begin the non-violent fighting ?

“MPs should keep their promises – not back £1 billion windfall for nuclear power : Posted by Louise Hutchins – 4 July 2011 at 6:20pm : A vote will happen in parliament either late tonight or tomorrow on government plans to hand out a whopping £1billion in new subsidies for the nuclear industry. The money will come from energy consumer pockets and will go to EDF and Centrica for doing absolutely nothing new at all. Our volunteers have been meeting with their MPs across the country with a very simple request – keep your promises. All major parties stood at the general election promising not to allow new subsidies, and yet billions in hidden subsidies are planned by the Conservative lead coalition – obsessed with bailing out this badly damaged industry…”

Remember – it’s not about energy, it’s about leveraging public finance to make a profit for the nuclear power industry. Nuclear Power is a business, not a charity. And look who could be walking away from the table :-

“05/07/2011 : German energy giants await London nuclear decision : German energy giants EON and RWE said Tuesday they would wait for London to rule on the future of its nuclear power industry before going ahead with investments in new power plants in Britain. “In principle we are ready (to build the plants) but the political conditions must be right,” an EON spokesman told AFP. “Our plan hasn’t changed. We have always said we would wait for the British government’s decision,” expected this summer, on the future of nuclear energy, he added. “We must await the government’s decision and look at it in detail,” a spokesman for RWE said for his part. German newspapers meanwhile suggested that the two companies, which set up a joint venture to take part in Britain’s expansion of nuclear power when it was announced in 2008, now see the plans as too costly…”

(That’s RWE, remember, who want to shed npower…)

Emotions are running high. After years promoting rational energy decisions for the UK, Neil Crumpton, an energy advisor to Friends of the Earth, had this to say on the Claverton Energy Research Group forum :-

The day any Generation III nuclear power station is consented in Britain will be the day I become ashamed to be English.

“The Scots don’t want nuclear, the Welsh are not allowed to object to nuclear and the Irish have always opposed nuclear.”

“The three main Westminster parties support French and foreign technology when the UK has huge wind and marine resources, global CCS [Carbon Capture and Storage] advantages and poorly insulated buildings.”

So much for informed democracy and an inquisitive British media. Where’s the determination to drive in British technology and inventiveness ? Its a betrayal – with concrete monuments, possibly some of the few globally, standing unmissable testament for a century and more to British political and establishment gullibility. They may as well build one on the cliffs of Dover or Hastings to ram the obscenity home.

“Its not done yet but it’s probably beyond a close call now – guess its now up to hard economics or a positive radical campaigning renaissance, or the negative fate of the black swan.”

Martin Otto commented :-

This is an exciting time – we are on the brink of widespread acceptance of the harsh reality that nuclear business, since its inception as a means of producing big bombs, has been a hugely expensive and recklessly dangerous con trick. The world will be a happier, safer and more honest place without it. Unfortunately the laggards in this dawning realisation are mostly politicians, some of whom are in a position to make big decisions on our behalf.”

And when Herbert Appel asked :-

“…there really is a concerted push by the nukes to get their way. Is anybody going to object, or do we just roll over as always?”

Peter Rowberry got quite impassioned for a man of his age :-

“You probably know that I don’t do “rolling over”. I have left responses to Mark Lynas’ diatribe on the Mail On Line web site, one of which has been published. I have lodged a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission that Mark’s article offended the PCC rules on accuracy and the responsibility of the press to point out what is fact and what is conjecture (articles 1(i) and 1(iii) of the PCC’s code). I am just a little too old and decrepit to take to the streets and join the brave young uns in direct action, but if the government ignores the facts like Mark [Lynas] and George [Monbiot] [do] I may yet change my mind. Roll over? NEVER!

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