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Monday, December 05, 2005


Why Britain will need nuclear power

It is gratifying to find that nobody disputes the facts in my recent letter explaining why, without more nuclear, we are going to lose two-thirds of our electricity. Regrettably I cannot return the favour to correspondents who now oppose nuclear on other grounds.

David Purves (December 1) objects to nuclear firstly on the grounds that Mr Blair supports it and secondly because since the world has a high population and high living standards it is all our fault and we should just accept Gaia's will.

In fact, Mr Blair's conversion is very much of the eleventh-hour variety and "haven't made up my mind yet and anyway there is still a need for windmills" variety. For eight years he has opposed nuclear power and, indeed, was reported as personally responsible for insisting that his last review described nuclear as "unattractive". Labour bankrupted our nuclear industry by administrative fiat, thus making it enormously difficult to persuade investors to put their wallets on the chopping block again. That he belatedly recognises the urgency with which blackouts are approaching merely proves how obvious it is.

The second point is a matter of philosophy and I would only point out that we are all descended from thousands of generations of humans who did not accept catastrophes.

Your columnist, Iain Macwhirter (November 30), starts off as a "nuclear agnostic" but within a few paragraphs has transformed into believing that the nuclear case has already "come apart" on "scientific, moral and economic grounds". The reason he gives for this damascene conversion is that rising sea levels will cover many current reactors (and most of the world's great cities but this seems less worrying). In fact, current measurements show sea level rising at 2mm a year, twice the historical rate to be sure, but nonetheless sufficiently slowly that to rise by 10 feet will take 1400 years. Since reactors have a design life of about 50 years, even were the rate to increase somewhat, this is hardly reason for panic.
Neil Craig, 27 Woodlands Drive, Glasgow.

Another letter in the Herald. I noticed on Saturday that in their round up of the week they listed electricity supply as the number one topic of letter writers last week - since there were only 4 letters published, including mine, this suggests they have had a number which were unpublishable. I think it is worth making the point about Blair because there is a risk that he will be able to monopolise it.

It is really rather good of the Herald to have published this when it implicitly accuses their columnist of lying about his nuclear agnosticism.


Blair's responsibility for the description on the last review - see the FT 25th Feb 03 p3

2mm sea level rise

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