Labour’s nuclear policy splits revealed at Brighton conference

NNWE comments from Labour Party Conference:

This week’s Labour conference was a bit of a mixed affair for the civil nuclear energy sector. With a Leader in Jeremy Corbyn who is clearly not in favour of nuclear new build, there has been great uncertainty in the sector since his election despite his strong links to the unions, most of whom are strong supporters of civil nuclear power.

It was therefore with some relief that in Corbyn’s new spirit of allowing disagreement amongst shadow ministers, the new Shadow Energy Secretary confirmed her support for nuclear power when she wrote that she ‘supports a role for nuclear power to keep our energy supplies secure and to cut carbon pollution from electricity generation’. However, she finished her sentence with ‘but not at any cost and not when more affordable opportunities exist’. To drive that point home she has asked the UK House of Commons Public Accounts Committee to do an enquiry into the cost-effectiveness of Hinkley Point C.

Lisa Nandy is supported by three very experienced shadow ministers in Alan Whitehead, Barry Gardiner and Bryony Worthington, who are also split on support for new nuclear. Gardiner and Worthington are supportive whereas Whitehead is a known sceptic. Gardiner was sent along to the NIA fringe event on jobs in new nuclear where he spelt out his support by saying that nuclear should, and must, be part of the UK energy mix. This strong support pleased the numerous union and industry guests at the event as well as the Barrow MP, John Woodcock, MP. However, undoubtedly pressure will be applied by others in the Labour party to review this policy, and the Shadow DECC team will have to work hard, with the help of the industry and unions, to ensure this support continues.