Welsh politicians unclear on nuclear

The nuclear issue is back. Much to the prime minister's annoyance he couldn't simply go ahead with a nuclear project which might leave future generations with a profound legacy of toxic waste: he's been told he has to actually consult with interested parties first.

So, what does this mean for Wales? Well, it means Welsh Labour are at odds with the UK government. The Environment Minister Carwyn Jones would prefer to cover Wales in wind farms.

The Tories appear to be pro-nuclear and despite remaining unconvinced about the waste issue Glyn Davies, chair of the assembly's environment committee, would rather see a new nuclear power station than a severn barrage. They seem to think that nuclear is perfectly green, but not green enough to feature as an energy solution along with biomass, tidal, and solar power in their vote blue go green pledge. Does 'vote blue go toxic' not have the same ring?

The Lib Dems are characteristically anti-nuclear, but Plaid Cymru are moving in different directions. Their policy is to pretend to be opposed to nuclear power while their leader is actually in favour. 'Plaid Cymru does not support nuclear power,' says the latest policy document. But Ieuan Wyn Jones supports extending the life of the nuclear power plant in his own back yard.

A decision on the future of nuclear power is likely to be made very soon. If the Lib Dems play it right they could embarrass the other parties, who each have their own contradictions on this issue. With Tony Blair and his likely successor both very much in favour it may not make much difference, but if the Lib Dems fail to command the political high ground on this they really do deserve to be hung out to dry. As they keep reminding us, Wales isn't short of high windy spots for them to do so.

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posted by Blamerbell @ 7:30 am,


At 8:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carwyn is in favour of wind farms as long as they are not in Bridgend!

At 9:48 am, Blogger Ted Jones said...

etbzntghcarwyn is in favour of open cast as long as its not in Bridgend!

At 10:00 am, Blogger Neil Welton said...

So Plaid Cymru are moving in different directions. The rank and file of the party (including a fair number of their elected representatives) are dogmatically opposed to a certain issue, whilst the "leadership" rightly try to have it the other way in fear of alienating the voters. One issue Plaid Cymru can certainly all agree on - their inconsistency. If they keep going on like this before May the polls will start going in a very different direction too. Downward.

At 4:29 pm, Blogger Richard Hazlewood said...

“The Tories appear to be pro-nuclear and despite remaining unconvinced about the waste issue Glyn Davies, chair of the assembly's environment committee, would rather see a new nuclear power station than a Severn barrage.”

Hmmm … seem to remember Glyn describing himself as a “nuclear sceptic AM” and being rather critical of Rhodri Morgan’s description of the Severn Barrage as Wales’s equivalent of the Three Gorges Dam in China [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4898514.stm].

As for nuclear power, I also seem to remember the Conservative Party saying something along the lines of: "Where the government sees nuclear power as the first choice, under our framework it would become a last resort; where the Liberal Democrats rule out nuclear power, we rule out subsidies and special favours for nuclear power."


Just thought you ought to know ...

At 5:11 pm, Blogger Blamerbell said...

Glyn does describe himself as 'nuclear sceptic', but would still prefer a new nuclear power station to a severn barrage.

Is that really a last resort?

At 5:15 pm, Blogger Neil Welton said...

I think you will all find that the policy position that matters is the one being put forward by Government (as in Whitehall).

At 5:57 pm, Blogger GerryWolff said...

Regarding "Welsh politicians unclear on nuclear" (2007-02-20), there is absolutely no need for nuclear power in Wales or the UK (or anywhere else in Europe) because there is a simple mature technology that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.

I refer to 'concentrating solar power' (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and half a million Californians currently get their electricity from this source. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.

CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, there are not many of these in Wales! But it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity over very long distances using highly-efficient 'HVDC' transmission lines. With transmission losses at about 3% per 1000 km, solar electricity may, for example, be transmitted from North Africa to Cardiff or Holyhead with only about 10% loss of power. A large-scale HVDC transmission grid has also been proposed by the wind energy company Airtricity as a means of optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.

In the recent 'TRANS-CSP' report commissioned by the German government, it is estimated that CSP electricity, imported from North Africa and the Middle East, could become one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Europe, including the cost of transmission. That report shows in great detail how Europe can meet all its needs for electricity, make deep cuts in CO2 emissions, and phase out nuclear power at the same time.

Further information about CSP may be found at www.trec-uk.org.uk and www.trecers.net . Copies of the TRANS-CSP report may be downloaded from www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports.htm . The many problems associated with nuclear power are summarised at www.mng.org.uk/green_house/no_nukes.htm .

At 9:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Neil but this has to be a wind up!

Hang on a minute-if your a Welsh monarchist surely you should be banging on about Owain Glyndwr rather than the Saxon-Norman version next door?

At 9:17 pm, Blogger Glyn Davies AM said...

This is a tough issue Blamerbell. The problem as I see it is that the Blair Government has refused to take the vital tough decisions about how we fill the 'Energy Gap' when current nuclear generation capacity is decommissioned. I am very nuclear sceptic - but I am increasingly suspicious that the UK has little choice but build more nuclear. I think we could have probably reached 'last resort' time.

I am personally unconvinced that a Severn Barrage is feasible. At present, there has been no evidence that it is acheivable - let alone desirable. All of my instincts say that this is politicians 'fools gold'. Its grasping at straws to avoid facing the nuclear question. But, I have said, reluctantly, that I would be willing to support a feasibility study - even though I expect it to cost a seven figure sum.

Which do I prefer? An impossible question. But I do thimk one has probably become inevitable. I hope that isn't inconsistant with what I have said before.

At 11:18 pm, Blogger Neil Welton said...

Hello there Glyn. Nice to see you here. I admire politicians that engage with the public and don't see it as something that is beneath them. I hope you will contribute here more often - my kind of leadership (political or otherwise). Your leader, Nicholas Bourne, is a great chap too - please send him my warm regards. Now forgive me whilst I deal with the question that Anonymous has decided to post upon here.

Anonymous this particular blog entry is about nuclear options so here I go - but only once. I'm not sure what history they taught you in school but Owain Glyndwr was not royalty (only in your fervent dreams). In reality he was an embittered and deluded son of an landowner.

A landowner helping to maintain Crown land.


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