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Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Another robust letter in today's Herald (no point in linking it because they will be subscription only after today):

The importance of the current debate on nuclear power to the Scottish nation can hardly be underestimated. I suggest that the opposition to nuclear electricity over the last 40 years has been largely a displacement activity for reasonable but ineffective opposition to our nuclear weapons. If so the nuclear family is in trouble.

55% of our power comes from Hunterston & Torness which are due to close in 2011 & the early 2020s respectively. To make matters worse much coal production will have to close down in 2015 when new emission controls come in. All in all we will lose 2/3rds of our electricity & without new nuclear reactors, with Kyoto making new conventional power stations illegal, & with windmills, despite immense subsidy, making less than 2% we have no way of replacing this loss. If that happens the last person to leave Scotland will not have to turn out the lights.

By comparison, in England they depend on home produced nuclear for only 20% of their power & are currently importing 5% power from France, who use nuclear to produce 85% of it - a figure which the French are happy to increase.

Despite what several correspondents & your own Ms Collins (Saturday article) say nuclear is actually the lowest cost option at 2.3p a unit compared to 5.4p & 7.2p for wind & off-shore wind respectively (Royal Academy of Engineers figures). If this were not so it would obviously be impossible for France to not only remain solvent on their power but also to profitably sell it to all their neighbours.

Equally the hysteria about burying waste is completely overblown. The only argument the last government commission on (they have them regularly) accepted was that the problem with burying a cubic metre per reactor year of waste in a state of the art sealed container was that it would be impossible to recover when the isotopes became valuable.

The opposition are clearly increasingly desperate for any alternative. They originally rejected tidal & ocean turbines in favour of wind as being expensive, prone to damage & not usable in the short term. Useless as windmills clearly are, the proportionate judgement still stands. Hydrogen & the Grunard project are storage mediums largely irrelevant without the initial power & even as storage, relatively inefficient. Knocking down a million houses & rebuilding them with state of the art insulation is worse. Fusion is 40 years from being commercially feasible - & has been for 40 years. They are correctly worried that a 'highly materialistic electorate who fear the lights going out" will not appreciate the advantages of hypothermia.

Since 24,000 pensioners die each year from fuel poverty because of unnecessarily high power costs they are quite right to.
Yours Faithfully
Neil Craig
The Herald didn't edit it leaving it the longest letter of the day in the central position under a photo of Hunterston. This contains repitition of things I had put into the Scotsman so it wouldn't have worked there. It is however the first time I have said the bit about displacement activity & the first since I have been fully aware of the closures of coal plants which makes our situation much worse. It also has a bit of humour.

All in all I am extremely pleased with this. I will be interested to see if anybody can take up cudgels on it - I would welcome it. On Saturday the Herald had their summation of the week in which they said the split on letters on the subject was 25/75 against nuclear so I thought it important to say something.

I've never been clear to what extent the old irrational opposition to nuclear was (1)ordinary hysterical fear, due to a press "beat-up", or (2) pro-Soviet agitation, funded in part from Moscow.
Since the funds dried up long since, I guess we're about to find out. In fact, since many of the most heavily subsidised Moscow agents were doubtless within the Labour Party, I guess that we are already finding out.
I noticed that on Question Time last night Annabel Goldie mentioned the figures of 55% for our nuclear supplies & 2% from wind. While I don't doubt that she had heard the figures before the fact that she used the same main figures I had suggests to me she had read & taken in this letter. Politician's do generally read the main papers & letters anyway.

Alternately she could be one of the literally dozens of readers on here.
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