Conservative & Liberal Coalition’s Emerging Nuclear Policy
Extract from The European Energy Review May 2010. Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne,(He who subsquently ended up in the nick) had been appointed to the post of Secretary of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Huhne had made many statements against nuclear energy in the past, calling it “a tried, tested and failed technology” that he would reject. The Lib Dems repeatedly called for a pouring of public money into renewables and their supply chain in “a commitment to 100 per cent carbon free, non-nuclear electricity by 2050.” Despite the foregoing position, a coalition agreement, negotiated over a period of 5 days has brought relief to nuclear industry observers by essentially continuing the unfinished work of the Labour government.
“Liberal Democrats have long opposed any new nuclear construction. Conservatives, in contrast, are committed to allowing the replacement of existing nuclear power stations provided they are subject to the normal planning process for major projects (under a new national planning statement) and provided also that they receive no public subsidy. We have agreed a process that will allow Liberal Democrats to maintain their opposition to nuclear power while permitting the government to bring forward the national planning statement for ratification by parliament so that new nuclear construction becomes possible. This process will involve: The government completing the drafting of a national planning statement and putting it before parliament; Specific agreement that a Liberal Democrat spokesman will speak against the planning statement, but that Liberal Democrat MPs will abstain; and Clarity that this will not be regarded as an issue of confidence.” This will allow Conservative & Labour to vote through the legislation unchallenged.