Government backs nuclear and coal
by David Masters
September 22, 2008
A senior government minister said today that the UK must embrace nuclear power to ensure the country’s energy security.
Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, business secretary John Hutton urged Britain to enter a ‘renaissance in nuclear power’, and added that the use of coal will remain ‘critical’ over the coming years.
Hutton justified his remarks by saying that a failure to compete in the international battle for energy security would see Britain put its sovereignty in jeopardy.
According to Hutton, by 2020 eighty percent of Britain’s gas will have to be imported, much of which will come from ‘unstable’ regions.
He added that nuclear power is low carbon, reliable and secure, and that building new coal power stations will not increase Britain’s carbon emissions.
The government also believes that going nuclear will benefit the economy.
Speaking at the new Nuclear Development Forum last week Hutton said that UK companies must be ready to win around £20 billion worth of contracts as the private sector looks to expand its nuclear energy production, creating up to 100,000 new jobs.
International bidders, including China, will pose strong competition in bidding to win the contracts.
Despite the potential boost to the British economy, environmental groups are strongly critical of Hutton’s stance.
Nathan Argent, senior nuclear campaigner at Greenpeace, said Hutton is substantially overstating the case for nuclear, not least because the majority of energy consumption in Britain is used to power transport and to heat homes – energy that nuclear is unable to provide.
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