THE NUCLEAR FREE LOCAL AUTHORITIES organisation (NFLA) says it is “incredulous” that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the UK Government remains wedded to a new Energy Security Strategy that will rely in large part upon the development of 24 GW of new nuclear generation capacity to power Britain.

A plan involving mass investment in renewables and a reduction in electricity demand through retrofitting the nation’s homes with insulation would have been far cheaper and quicker to deliver, it says.

In response to the government’s commitment to build the equivalent of eight new large nuclear power stations by 2050, NFLA National Chair, Councillor David Blackburn, said: “It defies common sense that the current government is turning to a technology that is too slow to install, too costly to build, remains risky to operate and vulnerable to military and terrorist attack, and leaves a toxic legacy of radioactive waste that has to be safely stored for 100,000 years.”

“In the past, we were told that nuclear-generated electricity would be too cheap to meter customers for.The reality is very different.The plan means building eight power plants the size of Hinkley Point C within 30 years. Hinkley Point C is already costing £23 billion and is years behind schedule, with operator EDF about to announce a further hike in the cost and a further delay in delivery.”

“Nuclear power projects are notorious for being delivered way behind schedule and massively over cost. British taxpayers will end up being saddled with this extra cost as the government has just passed the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Act making them liable for the charges.”

All of the plants will rely on a massive subsidy from the British taxpayer and ultimately the taxpayer will also pick up the bill for decommissioning the new plants at their end of their operating lives and for managing and storing the resultant radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years.

In addition to increasing energy bills and being delivered far too late to make a favourable impact in the fight against climate change, Boris Johnson’s ‘big bet’ on nuclear will not improve the nation’s energy independence. 

Councillor Blackburn added: “Nuclear power plants rely on uranium, all of which is sourced overseas, with Russia being a major supplier to the world market, and most of the plants will be reliant on foreign reactor designs, one with a dubious safety record, and built and run by foreign-owned operators.

“EDF Energy, the main player, is a company owned by the French state, and newer players to the market are American owned, including one involving billionaire entrepreneur, Elon Musk. The only UK business, Rolls Royce, which is developing the so-called Small Modular Reactor, is backed by French private money and funding from a Qatari sovereignty fund. The NFLA cannot see how nuclear in any way promotes Britain’s energy independence.”

The NFLA therefore expresses itself bitterly disappointed that the new strategy did not instead commit to a national programme of retrofitting insulation to Britain’s homes and to providing further funding to support domestic electricity micro-generation, both of which would have reduced energy demand and reduced customers’ fuel bills, as well as to a far greater investment in a range of renewables to generate power, particularly onshore wind projects and tidal power which remain largely neglected despite their huge potential and public support.

“We advocate an emergency national programme of retrofitting homes with insulation to reduce heating bills and energy demand, and to improve public health; a greater emphasis of new and existing homes generating their own power for domestic use; and a huge public investment in a range of renewable technologies to provide domestically-generated, reliable, sustainable electricity. This can be done much more quickly and much more cheaply than continuing to indulge in this nuclear fantasy”, concluded Councillor Blackburn.

* Source: Nuclear Free Local Authorities