Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima

Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima
We feel very sad for the people of Japan who want to end nuclear energy whilst a potential new government and big business are desperate for it

No Fukushima at Oldbury

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Eon/RWE would have to pay for a nuclear disaster says Chris Huhne

Nuclear will not get atom of help from this Government, says Chris Huhne

Chris Huhne
Chris Huhne, the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
David Cameron strode into the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
“I want this to be the greenest government ever,” he told the civil servants who had gathered to meet their new boss. Whitehall departments have been told to cut their carbon emissions by 10 per cent over the next 12 months and roll out an environmentalist revolution across Britain. The Prime Minister is hoping that blue and yellow will make green, with “double the passion and double the achievement” of a single-party administration. Chris Huhne, the department’s new Secretary of State, is one of the Liberal Democrats who negotiated the coalition deal.
“The last week has all been rather amazing,” he said as he showed us his seals of office and his ministerial red box. “Every so often you get those little glimpses of history. Suddenly there you are in your first Cabinet meeting sitting where Charles James Fox, William Gladstone and David Lloyd George sat. Energy and Climate Change is my dream job.”
Mr Huhne has always been green. On holiday in Tanzania in his twenties, he took time out to question World Bank officials about soil erosion. The compost-loving Westminster boy has much in common with the husky-hugging Old Etonian Tory leader. Each has a bicycle, a windmill on his roof and a first in PPE from Oxford.
There is one issue, though, that could explode the new Liberal-Conservative Government — nuclear power. The Tories want to build a new generation of nuclear reactors: the Lib Dems do not. Mr Huhne will be allowed to abstain on a policy that his own department will take through Parliament.
Will nuclear power stations get built? “You will have to ask the nuclear operators,” he replied.
“I’m not ideologically opposed to nuclear,” Mr Huhne insisted. “My scepticism is based on whether or not they can make it work without public subsidy. One of the things the coalition agreed with some passion in the current circumstances of fiscal restraint was that there will be no public subsidy for nuclear power.”
Even support in the event of a disaster was out of the question, he said.
“That would count as a subsidy absolutely. There will be no public bailouts . . . I have explained my position to the industry and said public subsidies include contingent liabilities.”
This is an important hardening of the position held by the Labour administration and could make it much harder for companies to finance the plants.
“It is a challenge for them, as no one has yet built a nuclear power station without public subsidy for some time.”
Charles Hendry, the Tory Energy Minister, will be responsible for overseeing nuclear policy, Mr Huhne said. He added that he would prefer not to give his personal preferences.
Mr Huhne did, however, once say that nuclear was a technology that had been “tried, tested and failed” and that it had “environmental and security risks”. Has he changed his mind? “The key thing about it is that if the operators think they can make it work then they take that commercial risk,” he replied. “My view is that historically nuclear is prone to going over budget and as a result there has not been private commercial finance for nuclear for a long time.”
Without ten replacement nuclear plants, how will the Government keep the lights on? Mr Huhne thinks there are plenty of ways. “This is an island surrounded by sea, we can use offshore tidal power, wind power, and we are sitting on enormous stocks of coal.
“We ought to be able to put together a policy that is non-carbon and independent from foreign sources.”
But he admitted that it is “inevitable” that Britain is going to become “more reliant” on imported energy over the next few years.
In the election the Lib Dems called for 15,000 more large wind turbines. Mr Huhne thinks wind farms are “beautiful” and says: “We can do a lot more although we have to be sensitive to local communities.”
He does not want to ban cheap flights, but does want people to think through the consequences of their actions. The Government plans to tax aircraft, not passengers, encouraging operators to have full flights. Mr Huhne also wants to tax freight planes, making it cost more to fly beans from Kenya.
“It is crucial that we send out that signal and that air travel is something that we watch carefully. Freedom of travel is an enormous benefit for so many people who have seen parts of the world that their grandparents could not have dreamt of going to and we want to preserve that, but at the same time we have to make sure we have a planet for our grandchildren to survive on. The overwhelming consensus of scientists is that if we do not take urgent action on climate change then we are going to face catastrophic levels of global warming. My feeling is that it would be very rash for us given what we have been told not to act on it. It would be like being told there’s a serious mad arsonist around and deciding not to take out fire insurance on your home.”
Might the coalition go up in flames? Mr Huhne is optimistic that the partners can survive the unexpected. “The procedures and the personal chemistry for that is good.” Nor does he think a deal with Labour was on. “I sat through all the negotiating sessions with Labour and it was increasingly clear to me that, given the arithmetic, a deal was not realistic.”
In the end, he said, it was about economics as much as politics. “This country faces a moment of serious national peril. Seven out of the ten biggest corrections of fiscal problems in the developed world since 1970 have been done by coalition governments. None have been done by minority governments.”
As the former head of a ratings agency, Mr Huhne knows all about financial crises. “I spent five years eyeballing finance ministers and central bank governors going through sovereign debt crises. I do not want any ratings agency to be interviewing either Mervyn King or George Osborne in the way I used to interview those countries.”
The Lib Dems have agreed to bring forward the cuts to this year,which they opposed during the election. “Things have moved on, the exchange rate is down, the recovery will be getting an extra stimulus from that. Frankly this is not just a question of political risk, it’s a question of serious economic and financial risk. This country faces a massive problem and it’s urgent and necessary that we deal with that.”
Mr Huhne must know that it is the Liberal Democrats who have most to lose — they could be blamed for the cuts and replaced as the Opposition by Labour. Might Tories and Lib Dems merge? “Who knows what the future holds?” he replied. “I’m not by nature a tribalist but I am a liberal. I’m not second-best Conservative or second-best Labour. I’m a Liberal Democrat.”

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