NNWEs Response to the #GE2017 Manifestos

Interesting though the election manifestos of the Labour, Liberal Democrat, Scottish Nationalist and other parties are, the reality is that, this year, the only one that really matters is the Conservative document published yesterday.

Nuclear energy doesn’t rate a mention in its 88 pages. By contrast “Theresa May’s Conservatives’ promise to “to maintain our position as a global leader in offshore wind” and “support the development of wind projects in the remote islands of Scotland“.  There is also a promise to “develop the shale industry in Britain“.

Whatever the merits or otherwise of these two measures, neither will do anything to improve Britain’s energy security or reduce energy costs in the next few years. It’s disappointing therefore that they are singled out for support when nuclear is ignored.

More encouragingly however, there is an explicit commitment to “a diverse energy mix” and recognition that “a diverse energy economy is the best way to stimulate innovation and ensure that we are getting the right generation in place“.

Another pledge is to “commission an independent review into the Cost of Energy, which will make recommendations as to how we can ensure UK energy costs are as low as possible, while ensuring a reliable supply and allowing us to meet our 2050 carbon reduction objective.

All this opens the door wide for the renewal of Britain’s ageing nuclear fleet. Only nuclear can deliver a reliable supply of low carbon electricity which is why investment in new plant is needed now.

Provided that Britain opens its doors to the cheapest nuclear technologies and backs them with the right industrial strategy, new nuclear will cut electricity bills for consumers too.

The Conservative manifesto lauds the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund to be targeted, inter alia, on economic infrastructure. But as NNWE’s Seven Point Plan for Energy pointed out earlier this week, nuclear doesn’t need government investment.

Simply lending to nuclear developers, during the construction phase only, at the interest rates available to government ensures that the industry is cost competitive. Since the loan is fully repaid by the developer this approach doesn’t cost consumers or taxpayers a penny.

So the opportunity for a nuclear revival clearly exists. At a time when the newly elected French President has appointed an avowed opponent of nuclear as his energy minister, Britain’s approach to nuclear has added significance.

A decisive move in favour of nuclear by a re-elected Theresa May could have a wide impact. For that reason, and many others, NNWE will argue the nuclear case vigorously on behalf of the industry to the promised independent review.

 

Tim Yeo

Chairman, New Nuclear Watch Europe (NNWE)