As the Global Economy goes 'Nuclear', Labour's fiscal plans for Nuclear Power look Ever More Irresponsible...
-A view on the £12bn takeover of British Energy and EDF's plans for a new generation of Nuclear Power stations.
In a yet another fast paced news day, it may have passed people by that British Energy is on the verge of being bought out by French energy group EDF http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/sep/24/edf.britishenergygroup
As the guardian article emphasises, this paves the way for EDF to oversee the development of a new generation of Nuclear power stations. The government are active cheerleaders for Nuclear Power, Gordon Brown is cited in the Guardian as insisting that this power source is, "crucial to the country's energy security". There are countless arguments against Nuclear Power and I am proud that the Liberal Democrats have led the debate in opposing their return. I don't wish to list all of the compelling argument against the Nuclear industry, but to focus on one facet in particular; cost.
Nuclear Power stations remain prohibitively expensive to build, manage and sustain. 'Not to fear', exclaim the government; they assure the electorate that the entire project will be funded by EDF and this new Nuclear era can be forged without cost to the taxpayer. Of all New Labour's audacious claims, this must be one of the most unbelievable.
In the past, Nuclear projects have invariably had to be bailed out by governments. The inherently risky nature of the sector is underpinned by the fact that British Energy had to be rescued by the government as recently as 2002. Add to this the experience of those who are also embarking on a new Nuclear future. As the Guardian reports, the first plant to be built in Western Europe for 30 years is in Olkiluoto, Finland. This project has suffered from spiralling costs, far higher than the original estimate. As we all know, the UK doesn't exactly have an A* record of keeping its headline projects within budget...From the Millenium Dome through Wembley (which was also under foreign ownership) to the Olympics; we have a glittering record of going over-budget.
Now consider our current economic climate. Analysts seem to agree that the global credit crunch is unparallelled in severity, save the depression of the 1930's. With the nationalisation of Northern Rock this government has already had to use vast sums of taxpayers money to prop up a failed institution. The country simply cannot afford for a failed Nuclear scheme to go over budget in the same vein. The EDF proposal is high risk for so many reasons and in our current state it is surely not a risk that Gordon Brown can viably afford to take...