Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Nuclear Information Service


  "New Build" of nuclear power plants is unacceptable for a number of reasons. It would:

    (a)  take the risk of nuclear terrorism into future decades, rather than grasp an opportunity to reduce this risk;

    (b)  perpetuate the nuclear fuel cycle and reduce the prospect of Britain meeting its obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to disarm its nuclear weapons;

    (c)  prevent a genuine, non-hypocritical political call for emergent nuclear states to abandon nuclear power;

    (d)  promote the constant risk of proliferation of weapons-grade materials and consequent risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons;

    (e)  encourage other, currently non-nuclear States to choose nuclear power;

    (f)  create further international nuclear political instability;

    (g)  present a permanent physical risk to workers, communities and the environment during commissioning, operation, decommissioning and decay; and

    (h)  prolong the problem of managing nuclear waste in a scientific and publicly acceptable form.


  Of all the available renewable energy systems, that most overlooked as an immediately usable technology seems to me to be PV (solar) power. Every block of flats, hospital, school, university, and government institution should have a solar heated hot water system. Incentives should be available immediately to encourage the private sector to take advantage of solar power.


  Government policy and financial investment in public education to reduce domestic energy consumption and encourage energy efficiency is only now bringing positive results. Any promise of "new build" would send the wrong message, reversing this trend. The resulting pressure on demand, causing price rises, would impact hardest on the health and social well being of the poor, the anxious elderly and therefore, all politicians and government.


  Accidental or deliberate release of radionuclides into the environment has been, and would always remain, the problem and responsibility of government. Clearly, if new nuclear power plants are not built, they cannot be a risk. Whereas advantages of some risks, for example, building a new bridge that could be vulnerable to sabotage, outweigh the possible harmful consequences, new nuclear build does not outweigh the cataclysmic risk of a nuclear release.


  Renewable energy brings security to Britain.

  Its large-scale development can:

    (a)  reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism ad infinitum;

    (b)  create the opportunity to decommission nuclear weapons;

    (c)  cease international political double standards on the nuclear fuel cycle and proliferation;

    (d)  show integrity in international relations relating to proliferation that will go wider than the nuclear issue;

    (e)  take national and international responsibility for future generations;

    (f)  diminish nuclear risks and fears;

    (g)  establish a permanent supply of non-lethal energy; and

    (h)  contribute no hazardous waste or carbon emissions causing climate change.


  (i)  The comparison of points listed under Nuclear Power in 1.(a-h) above, with those under Security of Renewable Energy in 5.(a-h) show that renewable energy can completely overcome, or make a significant contribution to reducing the extreme disadvantages of building a new generation of nuclear power plants.

  (ii)  Nuclear power is not a financial, technical or political option for the majority world, whereas renewable energy systems would bring lasting benefit to millions of ordinary people. Britain has a responsibility to be an example and a partner.

  (iii)  Britain has the capacity to harness its historic manufacturing skills and invest in the development and large-scale production of equipment for the UK and export renewable energy market.

  (iv)  Britain is on the threshold of turning the tide away from nuclear, towards the widespread application of sustainable, clean, renewable energy.

  (v)  The opportunity to resist pro-nuclear pressure and go forward in another direction must not be missed. If ever politics was the art of the possible, this is it. Political vision of a safer, non-nuclear world is here; please recommend that it becomes government policy.

20 September 2005

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