A critical report on the Government’s attempt to rush through plans to build new nuclear power stations in West Cumbria and other UK sites is published today by the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change.
The National Policy Statements (NPS) launched by Government for public consultation on 9th November 2009, already highly criticised by consultees for their complexity and the short timescale for consultation, have been similarly criticised by the Committee who noted a range of significant concerns about the Government’s consultation process and advised that the NPS ‘must be improved if they are to serve their purpose successfully’ .
The Committee reserved specific criticism for the National Policy Statement relating to nuclear power and the siting of new nuclear power stations. Of relevance to West Cumbria, were the Committee’s particular condemnation of the late inclusion in the process of the greenfield sites of Kirksanton and Braystones which ‘prevented effective consultation on those sites’.
CORE’s spokesman Martin Forwood said today “In layman’s terms the Committee is pretty much describing the National Policy Statements and associated public consultation process as a dog’s dinner. It is gratifying that the Committee has picked up on and supported many of the nuclear issues that CORE and others have raised during this process, particularly those affecting West Cumbria. Given that the NPS are generally deemed unfit for purpose and unlikely to be designated until after the election of a new Government, the current plans for new-build are looking increasingly suspect”.
On nuclear waste, the Committee remains unconvinced by the Government’s claim that effective arrangements would exist to deal with the UK’s legacy wastes – an underground dump by 2040 – and has criticized not only the inappropriate use of the term ‘interim storage’ for the on-site storage of spent fuel from new reactors when, in reality, this would extend for up to 160 years and span several human generations, but also the lack of information on the stores and what they will entail for local communities.
In the Press Release that accompanied its critical report, the Committee also takes issue with the Government’s overall assessment of the need for new generating capacity. It recommends a re-assessment by the Department as ‘the current assertion of the need for new conventional generating capacity reduces the likelihood that the renewables target will be met’.
CORE has long maintained that building new reactors will be a costly distraction from the vital promotion of renewable energies, particularly in and around West Cumbria where their significant potential is well documented.