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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How green is our valley?

The Guardian speculates that Tony Blair's decision to go nuclear poses a major challenge for David Cameron over his green credentials. It seems that the Conservative Party themselves are torn on this issue even though the green lobby is firmly in the anti camp.

As Chris Huhne has consistently pointed out the Tories' green credentials have been focussed on the easy decisions such as more recycling, personal choices on car use and better energy conservation. They have not been prepared to commit themselves on the really difficult issues such as environmental taxes and unpopular form of alternative energy such as wind power. The gauntlet thrown down by the Prime Minister on nuclear power will severely test their so-called 'new direction'.

As for Tony Blair, I thought that the Liberal Democrat Trade and Industry Spokesperson, Ed Davey summed it up well:

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat trade and industry spokesman, told Channel 4 News: "He [Mr Blair] has bounced his own ministers into this decision. This doesn't smack of proper leadership, it smacks of desperation. Clearly the prime minister under pressure wanted to create some sort of legacy for himself. The danger is it will be a legacy of a high nuclear tax for every family in the country because we all know nuclear is not economic."

The other challenge from this hijacking of the Government agenda by the Prime Minister is to the Welsh Assembly Government. Together with Peter Hain, they have taken a consistently anti-nuclear line and do not seem inclined to allow more power stations into Wales. That may be a fairly clear and popular stance but it will not go down well in Anglesey where Wylfa is coming to the end of its useful life and may be up for replacement as part of the UK Government's nuclear programme.

Caught between a rock and a hard place all the bets are that as with other difficult and potentially troublesome decisions, Rhodri Morgan's Government will put off stating a view until after the Assembly elections.
I'm not so sure that greens are all opposed to nuclear power... certainly the more vocal lobbies are, but there are certainly some who think nuclear is the way to go.

Perhaps Blair is also betting on the rising costs of energy making nuclear power (including decommissioning costs and waste disposal costs) economic.
The 'green lobby' isn't such a monolith. James Lovelock (you know, the 'Gaia Hypothesis') calls nuclear power the only green solution.

Still. Why bother with thinking when political point scoring's on the cards?
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