Collusion over nuclear power mirrors the PR disaster of GM crops


Collusion over nuclear power mirrors the PR disaster of GM crops

The UK government worked hand-in-hand with the nuclear industry to play down the Fukushima crisis: they are treating the public with contempt

Unsure about nuclear power? Here’s the five questions you must answer to decide


Posted 01 July 2011, by Damian Carrington, The Guardian, (Guardian News and Media Limited),

For the British government to attempt to “maintain public confidence among the British public on the safety of nuclear power stations” by colluding in secret with the nuclear industry within just 48 hours of the Fukushima disaster would be laughable if it were not so serious.

It was, at best, only a partial success. This opinion poll from Ipsos-Mori shows that one in five of those Britons now opposed to nuclear power had not been opposed prior to the catastrophe in Japan (see graph).

Across the globe, the poll found two-thirds of the public opposed to nuclear power. (There’s more on that in my previous post.) In countries where people are strongly opposed to nuclear power, such as Germany (79% against) and Italy (81%), politicians listened to their electorates and ended their nuclear ambitions. Germany says it will look to a future of renewable energy and with their record of economic success, who would bet against them?

In the UK right now, the public is split 50-50 between supporting and opposing nuclear power, and a majority – 57% – think new reactors should not be built. The problem is that the machinery of government, and the ministers it serves, is 100% behind the plans of the nuclear industry, as the Guardian revealed today. In contrast, the poll showed huge public support across the world for solar power (97% in favour), wind power (93%) and hydroelectricity (91%).

To my mind, it resembles the public relations fiasco of the first genetically modified crops in the UK, which doomed commercial use of the technology for two decades. As it happens, I have no objections to the technology, only grasping business models that can be used to deploy it.

But by attempting to drive through a novel technology without regard to consumer attitudes, the GM industry scored a stunning own goal. So why is the British government so determined to drive through a technology, nuclear, that has far less support than wind and solar power, and is very likely to use up vast sums of money that would be far better spent on creating a world-beating renewables industry?

The debate on nuclear power is a complex one and regulation and safety is just one of at least five major issues that need to be considered, as I have written before.

The capture of the UK government by the nuclear industry, as has also happened in the US and in Japan, strengthens the case against nuclear power on one of those five issues. Balancing them all, I still think nuclear power cannot be the answer to the UK’s search for low-carbon energy.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: