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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Nuclear preoccupation will saddle future generations with toxic debt, Green MEP argues

An energy policy founded on nuclear will saddle future generations with a costly, toxic debt, Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert, has warned.

Speaking during a special European Greens press briefing on the implications of the Committee for Climate Change’s Renewable Energy Review, Jean argued that the Whitehall predisposition to nuclear energy places the UK in grave danger of missing out on the wealth of economic and environmental benefits that the renewable sector has to offer.

Jean, who is currently involved in new European legislation on nuclear waste management said: “Slowing down investment in renewables will saddle future generations with a costly, toxic debt. The Committee’s inbuilt assumptions towards nuclear overlooks a number of worrying concerns, not least cost, construction and risk but also underestimates the potential for renewables over the coming decade. A vigorous renewables policy will deliver clean energy, lower carbon emissions, boost green technologies and create thousands of green jobs.

“Nuclear power can never be part of the answer.  Continuing down the nuclear path will divert vital money and effort away from developing renewable energy just when the UK needs it most.  I urge the government to open their eyes to the potential of the renewables sector in the UK and invest in green technology now in order to deliver a sustainable, low-carbon energy supply for the future.”

Jean was joined at the briefing by a panel of esteemed nuclear and renewable experts including Claude Turmes MEP, Vice-President of the Greens/EFA Group; Dr Doug Parr, Chief Scientist for Greenpeace UK; Dr Gordon Edge, Director of the Policy for RenewableUK and Dr Paul Dorfman, Founding Co-ordinator of the Nuclear Consulting Group.

Claude Turmes MEP, Vice-President of the Greens/EFA Group, said: “Whilst I welcome the Review’s cautious approach to biofuels, I find it irrational that off shore wind is expected to be a big sector by 2020 yet this has not been reflected in the report’s findings – the UK now has a real opportunity to reindustrialise and secure benefits from the renewables sector.” 

Dr Doug Parr, Chief Scientist, Greenpeace UK said: “The 2020 targets set out in the Renewable Energy Review represent a huge challenge for the UK but they can be achieved; the government must not take its eye off the renewables ball.  The Whitehall vision sees nuclear as the solution, but only renewable energy can add to Britain’s wealth and wellbeing.”

Dr Gordon Edge, Director of Policy, RenewableUK, said: “Whilst the Renewable Energy Review does contain a number of good aspirations, the targets on offshore wind power remain under ambitious.  The Committee sets out an objective of 13,000 megawatts of offshore wind power, which could be met by just two wind turbine factories. The Committee also suggests that this objective could even be reduced further, which would be highly damaging to investor confidence. The UK must go much further in harnessing its offshore wind potential if it is to capitalise on the economic benefits of this renewable power supply.”

Dr Paul Dorfman, Founding Co-ordinator of the Nuclear Consulting Group, said: “With unerring timing the Committee on Climate Change is calling for a nuclear Britain, largely leaving the nuclear industry to choose the direction of any safety measures and failing to address how significant ‘what if’ issues such as nuclear fuel supply and manufacture and vulnerability to attack will be taken into account. Now that Germany is about to become nuclear free by 2023, the question remains: what does the Climate Change Committee know that the most scientifically, technically, and economically adept state in Europe doesn’t?”