New Pro-Nuclear Voice Heard in Britain

LONDON, United Kingdom, March 7, 2002 (ENS) - The British government's chief scientific advisor today called for new nuclear power stations, contradicting a major official UK energy policy review published just weeks ago. This recommended treating nuclear as a fall-back option in case renewables growth or energy efficiency improvements fell short of expectations.

Interviewed on national radio, Professor David King, a chemist at Cambridge University, said, "The key new driver is climate change. We know that we need to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions."


Professor David King (Photo courtesy Cambridge University)
Even if the share of electricity produced by renewables were to reach 20 percent by 2020, as recommended in the official review, he said, carbon dioxide emissions would still be "left in standstill" due to planned closure of most of Britain's existing nuclear capacity.

"So it seems clear to me," he continued, "that our dependence on fossil fuels would be unchanged unless there is a new nuclear build at least to replace existing nuclear power stations."

Currently, nuclear power stations produce 27 percent of the United Kingdom's energy supply.

King said the problem of nuclear waste must be dealt with whether more nuclear plants are built in the UK or not. He referred to "deep ground disposal" as the best way of handling nuclear waste, and said he intends to stimulate public debate "so that we can get the public behind treating the nuclear waste."

Calling it a "difficult balance," King said the crucial thing is mitigating global warming. "If we're going to treat that as a priority, and I have no doubt in my mind that has to be our priority, then we need to continue our dependence on nuclear power at least in the intermediate phase until renewables really come on stream substantially," he said.

Government sources stressed that Professor King was expressing a personal opinion, but his comments will do nothing to damp down a furious ongoing debate between the UK's nuclear and renewable energy sectors.


{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email:}