Campaigners ready to fight Sizewell C

THE PRIME Minister was warned last night that he will face stiff opposition if he tries to restart the nuclear building programme with a £3 billion Sizewell C power station.

By David Green

THE PRIME Minister was warned last night that he will face stiff opposition if he tries to restart the nuclear building programme with a £3 billion Sizewell C power station.

However, a senior Suffolk county councillor said he hoped there would be “reasonable support” among his colleagues for such a project.

According to The Times newspaper, Tony Blair has made a U-turn over nuclear power and now believes it has a role to play in combating global warming.

He is said to be poised to order a new review within the next two weeks after the Government's chief scientific advisor, Sir David King, said the decline in nuclear power was contributing to the UK's failure to reduce “greenhouse” gas emissions.

Sizewell C - plans for which were “shelved” in the 1990s after electricity privatisation - would almost certainly be the first plant to be built in any expansion of nuclear power.

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However, environment groups warned yesterday that a fierce battle would be mounted if the Government eventually opted for a new nuclear building programme.

They pointed out that nuclear plants were not only vulnerable to catastrophic accidents, they were terrorist targets and created highly dangerous radioactive waste which had to be guarded for hundreds of years.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said submission of new plans for Sizewell C would lead to widespread protests.

“If Blair has changed his mind then I would be dismayed,” he said. “The way forward is obviously to invest in renewable energy, not waste millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on a technology that will only create more problems, including the provision of more targets for terrorists.”

Friends of the Earth, which failed in the 1980s to stop Sizewell B, said nuclear power was not the solution to tackling climate change.

Roger Higman, the group's anti-nuclear campaigner, told the EADT: “There are more cost effective and far safer ways to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions.

“The UK has very significant renewable energy resources while huge potential exists to reduce electricity demand.”

Mr Higman warned that environmentalists had to win the argument over the best way to tackle global warming because if the Government gave people a choice of climate change or nuclear power they would chose the latter.

He declined to speculate on whether there would be a repeat of the Friends of the Earth demonstrations over plans for Sizewell B. “The first aim is to win the argument,” he said.

However, Eddie Alcock, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for the environment, said he hoped plans for Sizewell C would attract reasonable support.

“I have always believed that nuclear power is the only solution if we really want to cut greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Renewable energy was helping but it was incapable alone of achieving the drastic emission cuts which were necessary, he claimed.

About 20% of Britain's electricity currently comes from nuclear power, but by the year 2020 all the existing plants except Sizewell B will have reached the end of their operating lifetimes.

Two years ago a Government document described nuclear power as an “unattractive option” and pledged to invest in renewable forms of energy, including wind and solar power.

However, Mr Blair has apparently revised his personal view on nuclear power because of the Government's failure to make significant progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions - even with an accelerated wind power programme.

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