Why would the government build nuclear power stations which will mean that they have to put people’s energy bills up twice in order to get the investment needed to build them and pay for the energy they produce, why would you do that? Why would the government think it is a good idea to suggest that right in the middle of an energy bill crisis?
The French have seventy nuclear reactors, and sixteen of them are offline right now because they have faults. So, you would want to make certain that the reactors you are building are going to work before you invest heavily in them.
The legislation that just got the Royal ascent means that every customer will have a levy put on their energy bills to pay for the construction of the nuclear power stations that the government wants to build. And then, because no one wants to invest the rest of the money in them, if you can’t guarantee the revenues, customers will also have to pay for the more expensive energy generated by the nuclear power stations, rather than the cheaper energy that is already available from renewables. So, this is an odd proposition to put to people during an energy bills crisis.
The idea that we should be focusing on offshore wind but not investing in onshore wind, is another odd proposition. Again, it is creating a situation where people are paying more for their electricity than they really need to. I think the idea that onshore wind is not desirable is completely wrong. The fact is that onshore wind is the cheapest power that we can get from anywhere. You can’t say on one hand that you shouldn’t build more onshore wind because people might not like it, and then on the other hand build a nuclear reactor at Sizewell that people are furious about. You can’t blame bad decisions on the public not liking something when the problem is deeply confusing and incoherent government policy.
I think that that we need to decide what is in the national interest, and build what is in the national interest, and do that through the normal planning process. I don’t think that you create social cohesion by offering some people bribes, and not others, depending on their proximity to a nuclear power station or a wind turbine. I don’t think that bribing people is a very good idea, it might make good headlines, but it will create more problem than it solves. If the government really wants to get energy bills down then what they should do first and foremost, and they can do this right now, is spend the money that they promised in their election manifesto to improve the energy efficiency of people’s homes.
In 2012, we were insulating about 2.5 million homes per year, last year we insulated about 20 thousand homes. That is the direct result of government policy, they could simply reverse that policy, and they would be helping people right now, today, to get their energy bills down.
These are some excerpts of an interview on LBC. The full discussion can be heard here: