Politics Magazine

The £70,000,000,000 Cost Of Procrastination

Posted on the 06 February 2013 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

Before starting my article on this topic, I’d like to congratulate Labour, Lib Dem and the minority of Conservative MPs who have delivered a large majority in Parliament in favour of same-sex marriage. The  legislative change is the welcome last step towards legal equality for the gay community in England and Wales.

Britain has yet another energy policy problem. It is the matter of working out where to dispose of several decades’ worth of nuclear waste. A major plank of the problem is that few of the communities that have been asked are keen to have a metaphorical radioactive gun pointed at their heads. Cumbria County Council, under whose jurisdiction falls the infamous Sellafield power station, recently voted against the proposals.

Fortunately for the Government, legal powers are at their disposal allowing them to inflict a nuclear waste storage facility on any community they like. This raises the question: why haven’t they chosen somewhere devoid of Conservative MPs anyway, like Manchester or Scotland?

The longer the Government dithers, the larger the bill for burying the radioactive waste in vast containers of concrete, lead and steel will be. At present, it stands at £70 billion, which is nearly twice the annual Defence budget. And with no nuclear power station in the world having ever been commercially viable without public subsidy for construction and decommissioning, one is left wondering why we are spending so much on energy which is dangerous to produce and leaves behind toxic waste that must be monitored for thousands of years. We mayn’t be able to meet our green energy needs without some nuclear power (at least until renewable energy becomes more efficient), but do we really want to increase the importance of nuclear power?

And for the “radiosludge” backlog, I suggest we do what the British do best: pay somebody else to deal with the problem. Nuclear-crazed France has the facilities in place.

Labour have said that they’d make Carbon Capture and Storage systems a compulsory feature of all gas and coal fired power stations from 2020. In theory, power generated from these fossil fuels would then become carbon neutral.

The concept is fairly simple: power station emissions are run through advanced filters, removing carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere. It is then solidified and buried (depleted oil fields are ideal), thus locking it away for millenia. I think it represents a safer and cheaper way to meet our energy needs during the transition to renewables.

Let’s invest in a safer and cleaner legacy for future generations.

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