The Government is still mysteriously bewitched by the lure of nuclear power in spite of its staggering cost. Yesterday I had two oral questions to test if the ministers have yet to see the errors of their ways. The answers were not promising. Hansard reports: -
Paul Flynn (Newport, West) (Lab):" Is the Secretary of State concerned that we learned this week that the already immense cost of £73 billion to clear up the current legacy of nuclear waste is probably an underestimate, and that taxpayers are likely to have a bill of at least £3,000 per family? The nuclear industry has never paid its way; it has always been an economic basket case. Why are we so committed to future nuclear power technology when we know that it will fix another financial albatross around taxpayers’ necks?"
Mr. Hutton: "We support a new generation of nuclear power generation in this country for all the reasons that we set out in the nuclear White Paper, about which I made a statement to the House a few weeks ago. The economics of nuclear power has changed dramatically because of the science of climate change and the introduction of carbon pricing. We cannot deny the United Kingdom and future generations of citizens in the UK the same access to reliable electricity that this generation and previous generations have enjoyed. Nuclear can play a role in future; we should be prepared to give it that opportunity."
My fear is that the Government is backing the Severn Barrage in the hope that they can plead environmental excuses to drop the project t. The pro-nuclear lobby is rich and active. There is no marine power lobby.
Paul Flynn (Newport, West) (Lab): When can we get a bit more oomph and conviction behind our policies for exploiting the one greatly neglected source of power that we are fortunate enough to have in this country, namely marine and tidal power? Although there is enthusiasm for the Severn barrage, it might be delayed by environmental objections. Should we not look into the many other ways of exploiting a source of power that is carbon-free, that does not leave a legacy of waste and that is eternal and British?
The Minister for Energy (Malcolm Wicks): We are a leading nation when it comes to such technology. We have put a great deal into the research and development phase and we have a programme of some £40 million to £50 million for the deployment of marine, which is waiting for successful applicants. The reform of the renewables obligation gives added incentive to both wave and tidal power. I think that my hon. Friend knows that the technology is in its infancy; however, for the reasons that he suggested, it has enormous potential, not least around our British Isles.
Cover - up
Search tomorrow's papers carefully - especially those that have been hounding Peter Hain and the Speaker in recent weeks. You may be disappointed that they will not find much mention this titbit:-
Tory leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg are among 14 MPs facing a reprimand for declaring donations too late. The Electoral Commission notes a £7,285 helicopter flight donated to Mr Cameron in 2005 and six donations worth £14,490 to Mr Clegg, dating back to 2006.
The survey found that when people were asked about their views on whether certain — currently illegal — hunting activities should be made legal again, that on fox hunting, nearly three quarters, 73%, said fox hunting should remain illegal, while nearly a quarter, 22%, felt it should be made legal. Comparable figures for deer hunting were 81% vs 12% and for hare hunting & coursing 82% vs 12%.
Hope you’re listening Countryside Alliance. Put that in your hunting horn and blow it.