NEW POLL: what’s your view on nuclear power?

by Stephen Tall on April 16, 2009

Yesterday the Government released a list of 11 sites in England and Wales where new nuclear power stations could be built, with the aim of having the first reactors operational within a decade.

The Lib Dems’ shadow energy and climate change secretary Simon Hughes was unequivocal in stating his anti-nuclear position on behalf of the party, branding this new generation of nuclear power stations a “colossal mistake”:

They are hugely expensive, dangerous and will take too long to build. There is a real danger that the Government is becoming too close to and [sic] the big energy companies. The best answer to Britain’s needs is a massive expansion of renewable energy. If billions of pounds are wasted on new nuclear sites the money simply won’t be available to do this.”

Almost two years ago, in May 2007, the Lib Dems’ David Howarth set out extensive proposals for a completely renewable energy system – through a mix of wind, tide and wave energy, as well as solar, biomass and geothermal energy – which the party said would ‘provide for Britain’s current electricity demand many times over’.

But the party acknowledged that it would take time – at least until 2050 – for this to happen. In the interim, David advocated investing in ‘carbon capture and storage technology’ – “better on grounds of flexibility, compatibility with renewables and microgeneration, safety, waste, proliferation, counter-terrorism, security of supply, and benefit to the British economy”. Going down the nuclear route would, he argue, “crowd out renewable energy, leaving us further away from the eventual goal of full sustainability”.

Not everyone is convinced, however. John Thurso has in the past expressed qualified support for nuclear power as “the least worst option” while Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies argues that:

the imperative now is to fight global warming. We cannot ignore the fact that our existing nuclear power stations do not release carbon dioxide. Carbon emissions will rise as they come to the end of their lives.”

Here, then, is the question for you, LDV’s readers: Do you think nuclear power is an essential component of the UK’s future energy policy?

Here are your options:

>> Yes, nuclear power should be part of the energy mix
>> Perhaps, would wish to see renewable alternatives but prefer nuclear power to fossil fuels
>> No, nuclear power should be ruled out now
>> Don’t know / other

As ever, please feel free to provide more nuanced answers in the comments thread…