Photographer Richard Holland is exhibiting in Manchester this coming week. The exhibition at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester is the culmination of 9 months research and work, looking at nuclear power and actual and proposed nuclear waste sites in Lancashire.
In July, the DTI will conclude the Energy Review which is likely to recommend the construction of new nuclear power stations. In the same month, the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management will publish recommendations on the storage of Intermediate and High Level Radioactive Waste. Tony Blair has pre-empted his own enquiry and declared himself in favour of nuclear power, whilst this week, Gordon Brown came out in favour of the renewal of the UK's Trident nuclear weapons programmes.
In the next few years, communities across the UK will face both the construction of toxic & dangerous nuclear power stations and the dumping of waste which will remain dangerous for millennia in the environment, and on their doorstep.
All of this will involve the investment of hundreds of billions of pounds, along with similar sums spent on pointless nuclear weapons. Indeed, the two are arguably inextricably linked, since radioactive waste from reactors in this country has been traded with the USA for their waste products, all to create nuclear warheads. Renewable and sustainable forms of energy are ignored and sidelined by comparison.
In my work, I’ve tried to examine many of the existing contradictions in this ‘debate’ that Tony Blair initiated and has now ‘pre-empted’. I’m not convinced by the argument put about that nuclear power is ‘Green Energy’, and through looking closely, I have found that the spin used in the promotion of nuclear power is manifested at a much deeper level than just words in the newspaper or on the television news. It’s reflected in the physical environment as well.
We are living in a time where the choices and decisions we make now about the way we live our lives, and the resulting implications for future generations are perhaps more critical than they ever have been before in the past. It seems to me that advocates of nuclear power are also advocates of an economic and social system which has ravaged our environment to the detriment of the very people that we are told it is supposed to benefit. The world is not an infinite resource for ever-expanding markets, and neither is it an infinite rubbish tip for the ever-growing mountain of waste that society produces, nuclear or otherwise. I hope that visitors to my exhibition will find food for thought in my images and perhaps take part in the ‘debate’ about nuclear power in a more active manner, before the politicians and nuclear industry advocates decide that they have won the argument all by themselves.
The exhibition is free, and takes place at the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre between Monday 26th and Friday 30th June.
A selection of images, including some of those in the exhibition, can be viewed here