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January 06, 2008


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Many thanks, Rwendland. That's very interesting. I am sure you are correct that the Nuclear establishment are out to make work and make money. Why do the Government treat them as honest brokers? Tomoorow's announcment is not based on a scientific assessment. It's the need to appear tough, sadly.


Thanks Paul. Glad to hear you are not one of the uncritical backers of the Severn Barrage, which seems to have taken a fair bit of the labour movement by storm. It reminds me of the uncritical industrial/political combination that brought us our first 2 generations of nuclear power, that has proven to be a huge economic cost and environmental disaster.

I do agree that some marine renewals look very promising, and deserve R&D support. Tidal stream generation looks promising to me, as (like wind power) big take-up internationally would permit equipment cost to fall considerably through mass-production of standard units, so could become nicely cost-effective.

I liked the idea of tidal lagoons, but read the DTI/WDA "Tidal Lagoon Power Generation Scheme in Swansea Bay" report and found its economic criticism quite convincing. The main difference was on the engineering standards of the stome embankments needed. The DTI/WDA report engineering standards cause electricity costs to be worse than the Barrage. However the Swansea Bay scheme is relatively cheap, and maybe it is worth a trial there to flesh out the real costs.

My other hobby-horse (while I have a MPs attention!) is the nuclear industry desire to decommission Magnox in 25 years rather than the original 100 year plan. There are very sound cost and safety reasons to wait 80 years, as in-core radioactivity declines enormously in that time. To my cynical mind the enthusiasm for 25 years is largely to create jobs for a declining nuclear industry and to create easy sites for possible future nuclear plants. But it will cost us a lot extra - there is merit in the FoE argument that costs shouldn't be pushed onto future generations, but in this case I don't think that wins the argument.


Thanks very much Rwendland. I hope we do not get hung up on the Severn Barrage as the main marine renewable. There are many others , including lagoons, water mills in places like the Channel Isles plus the use of electricity at off peak times to pump water up to the heads of the valleys and generate electricity as the flows back to the sea at peak. Theses are all simple efficeinet claen devisces that do not require the mega-costs and enviromental damage of a project as massive as the Severn Barrage.

I agree entirely about CHP and conservation measures.


I agree nuclear power is hopelessly uneconomic in a liberalised electricity market where the power station owners accept future cost risks, rather than consumers guaranteeing whatever it costs as our previous nucs were financed. However waste management costs are not significant for modern plants using discount rate financing, as the costs are 40 years into the future. (The old Magnox plants, with very large graphite nuclear cores, on the other hand are costing a fortune to decommission via the NDA.)

However it seems to me that the Severn Barrage has exactly the same financial problems as nuclear, massive initial capital costs that electricity income many years into the future cannot fund using discount rate financing. The only way I can see to possibly finance the Severn Barrage is to allow the building of a few small towns in conjunction, so developer gains can finance the barrage. I'd welcome the Barrage proponents clearly explaining how the financing could possibly work. As the FT reports (understated IMO):

The SDC calculates that, if the barrage were developed by the private sector, a minimum discount rate of 8 per cent would be applied to the cost of capital. That would push unit costs above the level for most other renewable energy sources.

I think we'd be much better off spending money on insulating houses and CHP - which would create a lot of small business jobs.

Chris Gale

Thanks Paul for comments about website, cheers for that.

My MP is James Gray, I make no comment.....;)


Thanks Chris, Like your website. Looking forward to it developing in the future.

Sending standard cards is an easy way of campaigning and getting signatures. But standard messages can expect nothing more than standard replies. Large numbers do give an indictaion of public feeling.

Individual hand-written letters from constituents grab the attention and receive personal replies.

Worst of all are PR compnaies lobbying on behalf of a group. These go straight into the circular file.

Chris Gale

Interesting about the identical letters and lobbying.
Paul,as you know many campaign groups use postcard campaigns for their members/supporters to lobby on key issues, either to MPs or direct to Ministers.Indeed,I have been on stalls giving these out to the public over many years. Would you caution against these?


Everyone respects the job the police are doing and regrets the deaths and injuries that result. Quite rightly, pay rates have risen 9% beyond inflation in recent years. Retirement at an early age is also part of the deal that means that society recognises the valuable job the police do.

I have had about 20 letters from serving police officers (all identical) plus a letter from a lobbyist. That is not the best way to campaign. The issue is inflation.


The argument for wages is weak if you insist that qualifications determine pay rates. The problem is that MPs should not be in a position to determine our own pay rates. There is no way that we can win.

Relieved to know you do not read the Mai. They has been publishing thiscrap about MPs pay. It's a non-issue. There are some who want to push for the £6,000 that was recommended. But they are in a very small minority I believe. It will be 1.9%

Rhys Davies

Paul, I am offended by your implication that I read the Daily Heil. I can form my own opinion, thank you very much. While I accept your other, valid points, I still cannot see how 60 odd grand is a fair wage for a job that requires no qualifications.


Irrespective whether you send a lobbyist letter or a handwritten letter to your MP, you get a standard reply, as I did from Ian Lucas, obviously someone looking for a ministerial job. The issue with Police pay is not how much but the underhanded way Jacqui Smith manipulated the negotiating machinery...she had already made her mind up before the issue went to arbitration. Whilst talking of Police pay I note your failure to mention the death of a Metropolitan officer, the shooting of a Lancashire officer or the stabbing of several Wiltshire officers over the holiday period...I don't suppose you or your colleagues on £60,000 pa saw much confrontation this Xmas, not to mention getting hurt. Thanks for your support.


Money is not the motive for many MPs. Some have taken large reductions in income to work here. They include Rhodri Morgan. Others are working almost as volunteers. These are the over 70s who are entitled to their pensions. The cost to the country is the amount between the pensions un-claimed and the cost of a replacment MP. You will not read this in the Daily Mail.

What MPs have asked for for 50 years is to have our income determined by an outsidebody - without the need for us to vote on changes.
If it's a career it's a poor one. The average MP's career lasts nine years. My predecessor as MP for Newport West had a 4 year term,defeat then 4 years in another job then a further five years as an MP and then electoral defeat. There is good argument that these interruptions destoyed his'career'.

the level of pay has been decided by the Independent Review Body.


It's baffling that there is lack of financial rigour on a decision that will cost us £billions.

Rhys Davies

Politicans should be paid on the basis of the national average wage, and compensated for loss of earnings. 60 odd grand is too much for a job that requires no qualifications. It would certainly rid us of the career politicians that are now rife.


Gordon Brown is right, regardless of police lobby tactics, if MP's vote for greater than 1.9% even if a review body says otherwise, it will a PR own goal of huge proportions and potentially could ask as a strike trigger - be interesting to see the results ..

Spot on as regards nuclear - if the decommissioning costs are not included it might make economic sense (even if not ecological sense..) - but why should tax payers foot that bill ? Or do Waste recycling guidelines not apply to the industry that promised 'energy too cheap to meter' (stop sniggering at the back..)

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