The Nuclear Option

Environmental groups fear that the current energy review is little more than a mouthpiece for our very autocratic prime minister, and that its widely predicted advocacy to build more nuclear power stations pre-empts a proper debate, both public and in parliament. 

There is ample reason for public distrust in ‘atoms for peace’.  If you need nuclear weapons, you need nuclear power plants to produce the plutonium.  From the earliest days, when the public were told that nuclear energy had the potential to produce electricity ‘too cheap to meter’, the plutonium resulting from the running of the plant was secretly conveyed to the US to make nuclear warheads.  In his diaries, Tony Benn tells of his sense of betrayal when years later he learnt that this had happened, at the very time when he had been minister for energy!  Nuclear power plants are the first step towards nuclear weapons, and the example of Britain choosing nuclear can legitimately be followed by other nations.  How could anyone object to atoms for peace? 

If other nations are to follow Britain’s example and build nuclear power stations, it is important that the governments concerned are made to promise, to cross their heart and hope to die, not to use the plutonium for nuclear bombs.  The following two paragraphs are from the CND office :-

Of particular concern is the indication that the government is planning to bypass the public inquiry process, presumably to make the investment option more attractive to the private sector. The report, which is clearly looking to develop a planning inquiry framework which avoids public participation, comments: 'We are seeking views on a policy framework in which national strategic and regulatory issues are most appropriately discussed through processes other than the public inquiry.'

CND condemns this latest attempt by government to exclude popular participation and discussion over matters crucial to Britain's safety and security. Kate Hudson, CND Chair, said, 'These new proposals effectively leave the British public without any recourse to democratic debate, inquiry and protest about the new proposals. This is all too reminiscent of the government's current plans to make a decision on Trident replacement before a White Paper in parliament and without a vote. No short cuts can be taken over people's safety and security, whether over nuclear power or nuclear weapons. The right to public inquiries must be maintained.'