There is another similarity with this announcement and his handling over our part in the Iraq war: his eagerness to get plans into effect before anyone gets the change to mount a suitable opposition. Supported by the fact there will be not be a separate white paper on the nuclear plans following the report, meaning no new legislation or a chance for backbenchers to leave him high and dry again. In other words, he had a brief look at an unfinished report and did what he wanted anyway, just like Iraq, except he never sexed the energy report up.
If I were a gambling man, I would bet money that the energy review makes far different suggestions than Tony Blair’s announcement, which has already stirred up a lot of opposition. Not just from opposing M.P’s, the green community or some of his backbenchers, but based on the people I have spoken to a large quantity of the British public. As well as rightly so, raising many questions both from those opposed to the nuclear plans and those supporting them.
The questions and opposition mainly regard the lack of plans for disposing of the highly radioactive waste, which is dangerous for many years after it is used. As the industry says the new plants can be fully functional by 2017, we need evidence that plans will be in place for dealing with much larger quantities of radioactive waste by 2017. Also although much less, nuclear power plants still expel Co2 into the atmosphere and if Blair's plans are carried through will only generate 40% of the UK’s power, therefore, if Blair doesn’t wake up to the potential of renewable energy over nuclear he won’t get much nearer to our Co2 emission target. As well as increasing the number of terrorist's, top potential targets. Blair’s reasoning for choosing Nuclear over renewable was there being many technical difficulties with renewable power, i.e. wind farms, also stating that legislation would be needed to speed up planning permission for such projects in order to further subsidise nuclear energy.
Technical problems maybe, but I know of many successful renewable energy ventures and many major power companies now stating high percentages of the energy they supply comes as coming from renewable sources, with estimations on higher renewable percentages in the near future. In most cases, these companies are doing their own work to develop or expand renewable energy quotas. This shows that they are aware the public is becoming increasingly concerned about climate change, so why isn’t Tony Blair. Regarding the new legislation to speed up planning permission, his announcement made the problem worse. Obtaining planning permission for wind-farms for example is as Blair said, often a slow process. Generally, because large numbers of the public, who, in the main are ignorant of the benefits of renewable energy and the dangers of climate change, mount objections to the proposals largely on the grounds they destroy the scenery. They won’t change their minds, if the PM with all his think tanks doesn’t see renewable energy as the best way forward.
In closing, Tony Blair’s announcement of expanding nuclear power supposedly addressed two of Britain’s current problems, energy security and Co2 emissions. It addressed neither. If more of the country’s energy comes from nuclear power plants, it will solve our immediate energy security problem but only temporarily, as we all know nuclear plants can only be used safely for around two decades. As for the CO2 emissions Blair going nuclear baffles me even more, a larger percentage of energy coming from more nuclear power plants; reducing CO2 emissions slightly and therefore slowing global warming, but only slightly and not forever. As well as adding the environmental problem of increased radioactive waste, which has to be disposed of safely, nobody yet (I don’t think even the PM) knows how or where. I am sure opposition on disposal sites will prove to be another stored problem.
Whereas mounting a campaign informing the public how immediate and dangerous climate change is and urging their support for renewable energy, alongside legislation to speed up planning permission for wind-farms and such, would I feel, have been a much better solution for Britain and the environment.