Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by John R Parry

  In response to your request for comments from the public concerning new electricity generating capacity, I would like to make the following observations.

  I have been witness to the spoliation of the Lake District by the erection of wind farms in the vicinity of Grizebeck and Haverigg. I note that most of them no longer work. In my view, the insistence of their manufacturer's in constructing them of bright white materials, presumably to advertise their presence, was an act of ecological vandalism.

  I have also watched with incredulity as large business concerns have been granted permission to construct gas-fired power stations and to run them on low-price North and Irish Sea gas. I note that the price of gas to domestic consumers is scheduled to rise this year—the figure of 40% has been mentioned. As a domestic consumer, I have to ask myself "what's that all about?" It seems to me that the policy is insane.

  I have been associated with the nuclear industry for the last 25 years, and I know there are drawbacks to nuclear power. However, I would submit that these are as nothing compared to living, as I did through my formative years, downwind of a coal-fired power station (in my case it was Agecroft north of Manchester). The health of generations of people living in Prestwich was blighted by the outpouring of filth from the stack, the top of which was level with the borough less than a mile away.

  There are problems with nuclear waste, but I would submit that modern recycling and encapsulation methods can overcome these. The Nirex deep deposit project encountered considerable local opposition, but my feeling is that that was caused by "not in my back yard" syndrome. If the proposition had been to put the entrance to the tunnel within the boundaries of Sellafield, rather than in a thriving local village, the local opposition would have been minimal.

  There have always been reservations concerning nuclear power associated with the "base load" problem. If you build sufficient nuclear power stations to take up the maximum load on the electricity grid, you are faced with the problem of shedding the difference between the maximum and minimum loads during quiet periods, nuclear power stations not being amenable to being switched on and off as required. May I suggest that sufficient nuclear power stations be built to exceed the maximum load. During the off-peak periods the excess capacity can be used to power desalination plants to compensate for the water shortages anticipated due to global warming, and in addition, the desalinated water can be electrolysed to provide a copious supply of hydrogen. This could then be used to power our motor vehicles—a totally "carbon free" solution to the pollution caused by our motor traffic.

  In conclusion, I am delighted that the problems of electricity supply are at last to be addressed, and would urge you to act rapidly and boldly to provide a long-term solution to the whole problem, which has been shamefully ignored for the last 20 years.

29 July 2005

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