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Friday, January 07, 2005


Published in the Scotsman today - this is the original wording parts were edited out - it was quite a long letter so that is ok.

< Your editorial tentatively supporting nuclear power has, unsurprisingly, stirred controversy. > Unfortunately the current situation is not as rosy as Mr Robertson (3/1/5) believes. It is true that demand in Scotland is only 2/3rds of capacity but this is because we send the surplus to England. Since power policy is ultimately a reserved matter & since southern nuclear power is due for retiral even earlier than our own it seems unlikely that we will be allowed to break long term contracts. Even in that unlikely situation, since 44% of current power is generated at Hunterston & Torness, there is still an obvious shortfall.

The suggested option of reopening conventional power stations is not realistic since the Kyoto Treaty, for better or worse, has now been ratified & we must, not only, not increase but significantly reduce CO2.

< Even worse - historically electricity demand has always grown faster than the economy as a whole so the suggestion that we will not need more electricity when Torness closes in 20 years works only if we assume Scotland's economy is going to spend that period in recession. Cynical though I am of the Executive this is not, I think, the intention. >

John Rogerson is quite correct in pointing out that building nuclear power stations takes, at least, 10 years. Since Hunterston will be closed by then the problem is obvious. Our leaders have eaten the years that should have been spent building our future making what some of us pointed out were patently untrue green inspired promises about windmills. On the other hand Japan is able to build reactors in 4 years < where the time (& money) is spent on engineering rather than lawyering > . We could do the same. < The alternate solution, of covering 1/5th of south facing walls with solar cells "under development", while intriguing, would take much longer & would be of use only to those who wish to heat their homes during summer afternoons but not during winter nights.

5% of electricity used in the UK is French nuclear pumped across the Channel & the French are spending 3 billion on a new complex in Cherbourg. > There is going to be a massive shortage & Scotland has the experience & infrastructure to literally take up the load. Having poured money into windmills on the basis that this would make us a "world leader" perhaps the Executive could consider not preventing the growth of a Scottish industry for which there is a clear & profitable demand.
On the same day they published a letter on French nuclear part of which recapsulates my, edited, point about French nuclear & which I am reprinting because I completely agree. Despite politicians repeatedly saying that we have the world's 4th biggest economy France, in 6th place, is ahead of us.

I am not surprised to read in John Bowker’s article, "Dilemma as case grows for more reliance on nuclear energy" (Business Analysis, 4 January), that French companies may be better set up to build nuclear power stations than their British rivals.

My last electricity bill came with a leaflet proudly stating that 85.7 per cent of my electricity is nuclear.

With 58 reactors at 19 sites, Eléctricité de France must now have the best experience in this type of power station and, of course, exports electricity to neighbouring countries, including Britain.

Of course, this should come as no surprise because we have allowed France to take the lead in aeronautics (Airbus), rocket technology (Ariane), ship-building (Queen Mary 2 and our next aircraft-carriers) and bridge building (the Millau viaduct).

Would the last engineer to leave Britain please turn out the light?

Rue des Plantes
Montgeron, France

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