December 13 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Liberal Democrat activists reversed their traditional opposition to new nuclear power stations - such as the Sizewell C project - in a conference vote today.
Delegates at the Glasgow gathering accepted that nuclear power could play a “limited” role in the UK’s energy supply chain, ending the Lib Dems’ opposition to the technology.
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert told the conference that nuclear power did have a role in the energy mix and if the party did not keep the option open there would be a “dash for gas”.
But MP Fiona Hall accused those who wanted to vote for the motion of “putting your blind trust in the nuclear industry and their friends in the Tory party”.
“If it looks like a subsidy, smells like a subsidy, it is a subsidy and we as a party are against subsidising nuclear power,” she said.
The government is currently in negotiations with power giant EDF over the “strike price” for a Somerset project - the rate for electricity from the plant which will be fixed for 30 years and subsidised by levies on household energy bills.
But there are fears that the apparent stalling of talks with the power giant over its Hinkley Point C power station “undermines” ambitions to establish five new plants by 2030 – including Sizewell C - and could deter investors.
Mr Huppert said: “Every way of generating energy has its downsides, but there is no simple answer. To power an entire country we are talking about lots of wind turbines, lots of solar panels, lots of whatever we choose to use.
“We also have to make sure the energy is available when we need it. Not when it is sunny or windy.
“I think nuclear may have a role in our energy base. We should not start off by saying no nuclear under any circumstances. If we don’t, what will happen is a dash for gas. Far more carbon dioxide, far more damaging consequences.”
But he said the motion was not a “pro nuclear option” and there were many safeguards.
But he said the vote kept the option open to tackle climate change.