Ed Milliband is new to the job and has some good ideas but he should take notice of the white bones in the corner of his office.
|In mid July 2009 Ed Miliband (Energy and Climate Change Secretary) outlined plans, in a white paper, which showed an unusually honest appreciation of the problems associated with climate change. Moreover the road map he outlined makes attempts to address these problems with promises of actions. He's a young and inexperienced bloke so less likely to be prejudiced by the narrow mindedness of other politicians mired in the iniquities of past behaviour. But to be fair to Gordon Brown, he must have allowed it. The paper has to be converted to law yet and that will take some months. Not a long time but what is important are the details which will crystallise in the interim and how the ideals may be scotched by powerful vested interests.
|Back in January 2005 we wrote to the leading figures in the three main parties at the time (Tony Blair, Mingis Campbell, Simon Hughes and David Cameron) expressing our views on climate change and how the country could contribute to a solution and at the same time increase our national prosperity. Only the Lib Dems condescended to give a meaningful reply and since Blair was the one with the power at that time we felt that we achieved nothing. Our ideas were in many parts similar to those proposed by young Miliband. So far so good, we applaud this initiative. However, having issued the plaudits it has to be said that there are areas of serious concern and some complete disagreements.
|Let's take the major disagreement first. Nuclear power should be a non-starter. While we accept it is effectively renewable it is not clean, and Ed keeps using the word 'clean'. Indeed it is the most pernicious form of power generation ever countenanced. On the radio we heard him refer to the issue claiming that the UK's record on nuclear power has been good. We suggest that he educates himself on that score starting with the Windscale disaster and reading the history of BNFL for starters. We could talk of countless outcomes of our mishandling of the deadly effluents including the pollution of the Irish coast and even parts of Scandinavia.
|Ed Miliband also takes the liberty to say that nuclear generation is separate from nuclear weapons. That has never been true and still is not; look at Iran today. NP generators are breeders for Plutonium which is an accursed element with a pernicious life measured in hundreds of thousand years (you have to think about that seriously to get some idea of the magnitude of such a time span). There are of course vested interests in the UK and abroad who will argue otherwise, but with a hidden agenda of self interest not this nations interest. As we have said many times before Nuclear fission is a no no. One simple test Ed if you persist, tell us of any proven means by which the deadly effluent can be contained or neutralised. And we are talking about the legacy effluent, let alone new waste products which will be produced if nuclear power is continued. Look at the sums; we're aiming for a nuclear capacity of approximately 8% of the total by 2020. Past experience (and current experience elsewhere) makes it highly probable that such power will be late and well over budget. In short please don't go there.
|Instead why don't you try to encourage other forms of renewable energy by development and by manufacture? We know you favour wind but that is a given and depends on importing foreign hardware. Some recognition for wave and tidal is implicit but we believe that these forms of wet power deserve more bolstering. One thing you don't appear to recognise is the potential of solar power, especially micro-generation. We believe that there is considerable potential here and the UK could become a world leader in the associated technologies. There is more potential for solar generation, by far, than the prediction for nuclear power contribution. It is claimed that thousands of jobs will be created with the proposed initiatives. Good, but will that be in support and service? How about manufacturing? This country has suffered from an attitude which has crippled our ability to manufacture goods. Perhaps it started with Churchill who demeaned engineers, but a certain Margaret Thatcher certainly landed a death blow to the country's manufacturing ability.
|Of course with such a technologies, government funded stimuli are needed and they must be effective. For example, micro generation in the UK needs sensible 'feed-in tariffs'. If such a method is to succeed it must be administered properly and adequately resourced, and that means bureaucrats trained to support the country, not their own empires. You may not realise what a botched job the bureaucrats have made of low-carbon subsidies, making it nigh on possible for we punters to take advantage of putative encouragement schemes. As it's said, the devil is in the detail, and we shall watch how this is brought to fruition. Obviously vested interests will fight to emasculate the spirit of the idea.
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Originated: 18 December , 2007, Last amended: 7 May, 2013