Talking about fracking just before Christmas, I noted that it was dishonest for anyone who supports greater use of gas in generating electricity to then oppose fracking. If we use gas, we need supplies of gas; assuming that we can get them elsewhere is simply dumping our environmental problems on someone else. The total availability of gas – and therefore the world price – has been transformed by fracking in the United States; and energy policy based on gas thus depends explicitly on fracking, either at home or abroad.
There’s a similar problem with nuclear power. Building new nuclear power stations depends on there being facilities available for storing, processing, and disposing of nuclear waste. It’s equally dishonest for proponents of Wylfa B to make – as many seem to – the implicit assumption that those facilities will be available “somewhere else”. Supporters of Wylfa B would sound much more honest to me if they were also lobbying to have nuclear waste stored and dumped in Ynys Môn. I won’t hold my breath on that.
Those of us supporting renewables can’t escape a similar problem either, although some seem to believe that they can. Building wind turbines means we need infrastructure – power lines and substations – to get the electricity into the grid. Whilst there’s always scope for debate about the detail, such infrastructure has to go somewhere. Arguing for wind power and then opposing the infrastructure would again be dishonest. So as someone who accepts the need for that wind energy, I also have to accept the need for that infrastructure as a consequence of my preferred energy strategy, and I’m prepared to argue for that.
Politicians arguing for any of those three approaches to energy policy and then opposing the inevitable concomitants are not simply dishonest; they are in a sense promising something which they know to be impossible. So let’s hear the argument for nuclear waste storage on Ynys Môn.