Tag Archives: nuclear power

Vince Cable: The net zero consensus is over

How do you save the planet when we no longer agree on key measures to save the planet? These questions are posed by Vince Cable in his latest column for Comment Central. As Vince often does, he poses questions that some Liberal Democrats will find difficult, particularly in relation to North Sea Oil licences and relations with China.

Consensus between the parties is key to making long term plans to save the planet, he argues.

He sets out how far the Conservatives have fallen on climate change:

It was Margaret Thatcher who originally embraced the global warming issue and wider environmental stewardship and who demonstrated by championing the Montreal Protocol on the Ozone Layer the force of British leadership. David Cameron (initially) and Boris Johnson continued this tradition. The resigning Environment Minister, Zac Goldsmith, has told us, however, that this Prime Minister is simply uninterested. Or hostile. Or cynically preparing for what I call the CAT strategy in the coming election: climate; asylum; and transgender; a culture war campaign.

He outlines a series of uncomfortable trade-offs that he says we must be prepared to make to get to Net Zero.

One of those trade-offs is cost. Nothing fuels populist anger more than regressive levies on environmental bads. For families whose sole practical, means of transport is an old banger, environmental taxes are resented, no matter the impact on the planet or local air quality. Politicians may choose to press ahead but they cannot ignore the negative side effects. In practice, the trade-offs are more complex. The environmental levy paid on fuel bills to provide support for new renewables was criticised for increasing energy bills but has helped to drive down the cost of offshore wind to a point that it is now consistently cheaper than gas.

He says that nuclear must also be part of the package:

Indeed, hostility to this impeccably zero carbon and energy secure domestic source has been led by the same green campaigners who oppose fossil fuel use. What we need is a portfolio of different, low carbon and secure sources including new renewables, nuclear and carbon capture.

This will cheer those within the party who are challenging our longstanding anti nuclear energy policy. Last year a motion to include nuclear power as part of an energy security package was put to Scottish Conference and referred back.

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Yesterday’s Press Releases in review: 1 May 2017

It may have been a Bank Holiday, but the Press Team never rest. Here are some of the releases they sent out yesterday that aren’t covered elsewhere in our pages;

Farron: FAZ report on May’s Juncker dinner show this Govt has no clue on Brexit

According to damning reports in the German press on Theresa May’s dinner with Juncker last week, EU sources believe there is now more than 50% chance of a disorderly Brexit, while May has made clear to the European Commission she fully expects to be re-elected as Prime Minister.

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron commented:

These reports blow a

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Are the Greens to the Lib Dems what Ukip is to the Tories?

image“As Ukip is to the Tories, so can the Green party be to the Lib Dems.” That’s a sentence I wrote here, almost seven years ago, on 3rd November, 2007.

In The Times, Sam Coates has looked at how the quiet rise of the Greens in recent months – the party polled just ahead of the Lib Dems in May’s European elections – might hurt the Lib Dems at the May 2015 general election.

An analysis of the European election results shows the Green vote strengthening and consolidating in the

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Opinion: Getting a better deal for consumers from nuclear power

Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant - Some rights reserved by John O DyerFollowing the vote at last September’s conference, the party now supports new-build nuclear power. This has been a hard road for many, but ultimately the UK needs to replace the 82% of UK nuclear generation capacity that is due to decommission by 2023. This is fully 51% of all UK low-carbon generating capacity, and unlike renewables today, nuclear can provide baseload generation.

It is this combination of baseload capability, capacity at lower cost than the cheapest renewables means that nuclear …

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Opinion: European Commission is right to demand Ed Davey and the Coalition re-thinks on nuclear power

Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant - Some rights reserved by John O DyerIn October 2013, Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey set out his arguments for reversing his long-held antipathy to nuclear power. On behalf of the Coalition, he is applying to the European Commission to ensure that the measures he is promoting – to ensure construction of the first new nuclear power station in the UK for a generation – are compatible with the Single Market.

But now the Competition Directorate of the European Commission has sent a 70-page rebuttal to the UK Government, completely rejecting its arguments for subsidising the building of the Hinckley B nuclear power station in Somerset.

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Energy: What Lib Dem members think about the price freeze and new nuclear power station deal

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 750 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.
Would you support or oppose the following policies…?

64% oppose energy price freeze

… Freezing energy prices for 20 months from May 2015, while reviewing the regulation of energy companies

    7% – Strongly Support
    16% – Support
    Total support = 23%
    34% – Oppose
    30% – Strongly Oppose
    Total oppose = 64%
    12% –

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Opinion: It’s not just about Nuclear, it’s about Finance

Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant - Some rights reserved by John O DyerIt’s been a week since Ed Davey announced the deal to build a new nuclear power station. After a week’s reflection the financing of this deal, especially by the Chinese, has become the biggest talking point. The cheapest way to generate electricity is with coal-fired power stations fuelled with open-cast coal from North America. Cheap, that is, if you ignore the environmental cost. …

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Ed Davey MP writes… Hinkley Point C – a big step forward for energy decarbonisation

Today I announced that we have reached an outline commercial agreement with EDF to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset.

I know this will cause a wide range of reactions within the party. Most will welcome this very significant step forward in our plans to decarbonise our energy sector. A substantial minority I know will be disappointed. Before outlining the terms of what I believe is a good deal for the British consumer let me repeat what I said at the Glasgow conference as to why I have changed my mind and now believe that nuclear has …

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Conference: Nuclear power – the raw politics

SizewellWill the Lib Dems ditch their historic opposition to nuclear power? That debate is set to be one of the main flashpoints at the Glasgow conference. New polling evidence – published here for the first time – shows the outcome will affect support among key voter groups – ‘our market’, as the jargon goes – with all that means for key seats and the overall result of the next election.

Of course the debate itself will be about technical details: how nuclear technology can be called safe when no solution has yet been found for waste that remains lethally radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years; whether the promise of no public subsidy can be true if Brussels has to approve funding guarantees as “state aid”; and how renewables will ever gain critical mass if the high costs of nuclear crowds out resources and public funding for newer technologies?

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The Independent View: No real choice on nuclear

Atoms are not the only fission products of nuclear power. This is a technology with a unique capacity to divide people and parties. The pro- and anti- lobbies have been fighting it out for forty years and are no nearer to agreeing about its role in our energy system than they were when they began.

When we joined the Coalition we had a settled policy that was an important part of our distinctiveness as the greenest of the major parties. The policy we took into the Coalition Agreement was clear and unambiguous. We had long opposed any new nuclear construction. In …

Posted in The Independent View | 14 Comments

The Independent View: Liberal Democrats should support nuclear power


Liberal Democrats should vote to support nuclear power at the 2013 conference. I say this after 20 years campaigning against nuclear power, including five years as head of Greenpeace UK. Nuclear is not perfect. But it is better than fossil fuels.

The best form of energy is energy efficiency. Next best are renewables. But however efficient we get, and however fast we expand wind, it will take many decades before we can be entirely reliant on renewables. Denmark has set itself a target of 2050 for this. The EU has a target of 20% by 2020. If the 2020 target is met, that still leaves 80% of the journey to travel. So other low-carbon technologies are needed to protect the climate.

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Independent View: Conference – Time to kick the nuclear energy habit

Nuclear no thanksThe movement against nuclear energy waits anxiously. Given Ed Davey’s apparent enthusiasm for new nuclear, it is more than a little alarming to learn that a proposal to support nuclear new build has been put forward as part of the Green Growth and Green Jobs debate at Glasgow. Are Lib Dem’s really willing to abandon one of the party’s unique selling points?

The proposal (Option B 4.3.3) asserts that nuclear power could play a limited role in achieving a zero carbon Britain – provided that concerns about safety, disposal of radioactive waste and cost, including decommissioning, can be adequately addressed. If we could turn the optimism behind this motion into energy, we’d be able to keep the lights on forever.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged | 33 Comments

Ed Davey MP writes: Hinkley Point – we need to have all low carbon options in play

Davey Windmills - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsClimate change is one of the greatest threats facing our planet – if we don’t tackle it we will continue to see extinction of species on an industrial scale, parts of our world will become uninhabitable for humans, and we will see increasing conflict between nations over scarce resources and the mass migration of impoverished peoples.  We need to step up to this environmental challenge and use all of our ingenuity and resourcefulness to meet it head-on.

As the Secretary of State I’m determined …

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Eric Avebury writes…Managing our nuclear legacy: the £67.5 billion question for Ed Davey

The most important task facing Ed Davey for the long term is not how to manage the Energy Bill, but deciding how to deal with the 112 tonnes of plutonium accumulated at Sellafield and Dounreay from past civil nuclear operations, still growing at 4-6 tonnes a year.

The cost of maintaining this hazardous material in maximum security conditions to the year 2050 is estimated at £67.5 billion. But storage in a geological disposal facility is not on the cards, with Cumbria County Council’s decision to reject the idea in January, and no other candidates on the horizon. The best hope is …

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Edward Davey: New nuclear plants will have no taxpayer subsidy

Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey has been talking to ITN’s Laura Kuenssberg after £700 million private companies following the announcement that Hitachi were investing £700 million in new nuclear plants. He said:

It’s a real vote of confidence from a major international company…. This is good news for the public because it’s part of our energy security strategy to keep the lights on

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Trident: it’s déjà vu all over again

The latest flurry of excitement about the Trident nuclear deterrent — as the Daily Mail puts it with typical tabloid restraint: Tories and LibDems at war over contract to build Trident sub: £350m deal is jumping the gun, warns Clegg — is one of those stories which pops up twice a year. The last time was six months ago, in May, when the Ministry of Defence announced £350m-worth of design contracts for the Trident successor submarines had been signed. As then Lib Dem defence minister Nick Harvey pointed out on LDV at the time:

is being portrayed as the Coalition Government moving a step closer to a

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Chris Davies MEP writes: A view from the North (2/3)

You can read the first instalment of Chris Davies’s View from the North here.

It will some as no surprise to members in the North West that I asked them some questions on issues relating to the environment and reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

I have led on environmental issues for the pan-European Liberal group in the Parliament since 1999, but since being re-elected in 2009 I have made sustainable reform of the CFP my biggest policy priority.

I asked whether members agreed with the majority of the world’s scientists that the climate is changing. 88% agreed and only …

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Ed Davey MP writes … There will be no public subsidy for nuclear

Liberal Democrats were at pains in the negotiations for the coalition to insist that if nuclear power stations were to be built in the UK that there should be no public subsidy. This position was reiterated by Chris Huhne in a statement to the House of Commons on October 18th 2010 as reported in his article on Lib Dem Voice. So I would  like to allay Fiona Hall concerns expressed on Lib Dem Voice yesterday by clarifying that there has been absolutely no change in this position.

As Chris Huhne outlined in October 2010 this means that “there will …

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Fiona Hall MEP writes: Subsidies for nuclear energy go against Coalition agreement AND economic common sense

With the Government due to announce new measures to encourage investment in low carbon power generation as part of its Electricity Market Reform (EMR), it is time for Liberal Democrats to speak out against public subsidies for nuclear energy. Why? Because among the Government’s proposals is the so-called Feed-in Tariff with Contract for Difference (FiT CfD) which will offer a price guarantee and revenue certainty for investors in low-carbon electricity generation  – including nuclear.  Such a public subsidy to help build new nuclear power stations in the UK would go completely against the Coalition Government Agreement and prolong “the most expensive failure of post-war British policy-making” as

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LibLink: Ed Davey – Out of the Shadows

The Lib Dems’ newest cabinet minister Edward Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, is the subject of an extensive profile in the latest issue of The House magazine, re-printed on PoliticsHome.

And it sounds like he couldn’t be much happier: “This is the thing I wanted to do – it’s my dream job. Environment, and the whole climate-change agenda, is one of the reasons I joined the Liberal Democrats. It’s something that really motivates me in politics and it’s a great privilege to be here. … I’m not going to be giving in on Liberal Democrat …

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Huhne pledges to do ‘the right thing’ as he commits to nuclear power

This week saw Lib Dem energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne make a major speech to the Royal Society on the future of nuclear power, with the Coalition committed to a series of new reactors adjacent to existing sites.

The Coalition’s policy has long been trailed — a year ago, Chris put forward his views here on LibDemVoice.org, ‘Myth-busting: what the Coalition’s plans for nuclear energy really mean’. Here Chris acknowledged his shift from opposition to nuclear power to support conditional on no public subsidy — a shift which has majority support from Lib Dem members, at …

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The Independent View: Nuclear subsidies – no thanks!

On Tuesday night in the House of Commons, the nuclear industry moved a significant step closer to getting their hands on an extra £1.3 billion of public money, courtesy of a coalition Government that promised no subsidy for nuclear power.

A Labour attempt to claw the money back through a windfall tax failed. And although this was supported by environmentally-minded Conservative MP, Zac Goldsmith, not a single Liberal Democrat MP gave their backing.

Admittedly there were notable abstentions. Sixteen Liberal Democrat MPs did not troop through the Government lobby to block the Labour proposal – including, intriguingly, Danny Alexander.

The issue …

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Lib Dem MPs set to rebel over ‘back-door’ nuclear power subsidy

‘Liberal Democrats have long opposed any new nuclear construction. Conservatives, by contrast, are committed to allowing the replacement of existing nuclear power stations provided that they are subject to the normal planning process for major projects (under a new National Planning Statement), and also provided that they receive no public subsidy.’

So declares the Coalition Agreement. However, as the Guardian reports, the finance bill due to be debated this coming week introduces a form of subsidy, and it’s attracted opposition among the party:

A large group of Lib Dems are concerned about clause 78 of the bill, which MPs will consider

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John Leech MP writes: New £1bn nuclear windfall must be taxed

On Monday, MPs will be asked to vote through £1 billion in windfall profits to existing nuclear operators for doing absolutely nothing new. We fought the last general election on the promise of opposing new nuclear power and certainly reject public subsidies for nuclear power.

Whatever your take on nuclear power though, surely it’s unjustifiable and politically untenable to hand out £1 billion to EDF and Centrica directly from consumer purses, when people are already feeling the squeeze.

The windfall will do nothing to ensure new electricity generation, nothing to help us meet our renewable energy targets and nothing to build popular …

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

Lib Dem members survey: majority back nuclear power as part of UK’s energy mix

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 530 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results this week.

Almost 60% of Lib Dem members back nuclear power

LDV asked: Do you believe that nuclear power, alongside oil and gas and renewable sources, should be part of the UK’s energy mix?

    58% – Yes, nuclear should be part of the mix
    36% – No, nuclear power should play no part in the UK’s energy mix
    5% – Don’t know

Posted in LDV Members poll | 5 Comments

Chris Huhne writes… Myth-busting: what the Coalition’s plans for nuclear energy really mean

Which of these headlines is right?

Lib Dem U-turn on nuclear energy sees Huhne announce eight new power stations‘ (Independent)

‘Taxpayer to underwrite expansion of nuclear power’ (The Times)

Subsidy for eight nuclear reactors rejected‘ (Financial Times)

All appeared in the papers on Tuesday 19 October, the day after I announced the latest steps in the government’s approach to nuclear energy. They’re a good example of how confused journalists can get – only the FT’s got it right. So let me make it plain: there has been no change whatsoever in the coalition’s policy of allowing new nuclear stations to go ahead as long as they can be built without public subsidy.

What we’ve done is to publish four key sets of documents:

Posted in Op-eds | 25 Comments

LDV survey: 68% of Lib Dem members back nuclear as party of UK’s energy mix

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of a variety of key issues, and what you make of the Lib Dems’ and Government’s performance to date. Almost 600 party members have responded, and we’ll be publishing the full results of our survey in the next few days.

First up we asked about Chris Huhne’s announcement that he is now backing nuclear power in order to ensure the stability of Britain’s energy supplies.

Do you believe Chris Huhne is right to say that nuclear power, alongside oil and gas and renewable sources,

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Monday will be the day of high drama (or anti-climax) at party conference

Monday, 20th September: nuclear power, free schools and Nick Clegg’s conference speech. Drama, protest and dissension or quiet compromise, careful management and enthusiastic standing ovation?

It’s no coincidence that both potential controversies are scheduled for the same day as Clegg’s speech: in the worst case situation, all the bad news would be be concentrated on the one day and Clegg will still get the final word (or rather, many words) on the day with his speech coming after the possible flashpoints*.

However, it’s unlikely to come to that as the two motions are carefully worded. Nuclear power gets a mention in the …

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NEW POLL: Should nuclear power be part of the UK’s energy mix?

Climate change and energy secretary Chris Huhne was on Radio 4 this morning with what will have been, for many Lib Dems, a surprise announcement: that the Lib Dem / Conservative coalition government is fully behind the opening of a new nuclear power station in eight years’ time.

Arguing in favour of in favour of a mix of more nuclear, oil and gas and renewable energy, Chris declared, “I have no intention of the lights going out on my watch.”

This is something of a change in direction for Liberal Democrat party policy. For example, in the 2010 manifesto the …

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“Private sector will build nuclear plants,” says Huhne

The BBC reports:

New nuclear plants will be built in the UK as part of the move towards a green economy, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has said.

Mr Huhne told the BBC that breaking the dependence on traditional fossil fuels was vital. The minister said the market would decide which types of low-carbon energy would be used, but he believes nuclear investors are waiting to come forward.

He ruled out specific government subsidies for the new power stations.

Chris was speaking on the BBC1’s Andrew Marr programme, Sunday AM, and confirmed:

My position and my party’s position was always one

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Recent Comments

  • Alex Macfie
    @Peter Martin: No-one was saying that at all, except maybe @Adam who is relying on BtL comments on news articles which cannot be taken as representative of anyt...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Chris, Adam and David, So can we all agree (except perhaps Alex ) that being in favour of the EU does require uncritical support? This is a big problem...
  • Alex Macfie
    @Adam: I rarely read BtL comments in newspaper articles as they tend not to be representative of public opinion. All I can say is that such opinions as you have...
  • Adam
    "Given the avalanche of unending and captious criticism of the EU from the pro-Brexiteer nationalist establishment prior to Brexit, it’s scarcely surprising t...
  • David Allen
    Peter Martin, "In practice, we seldom, if ever, see any criticism of the EU from its supporters." Yeah, yeah, yeah. When the Tories make a political broa...