Thursday, 29 January 2015

How not to scrutinise a £ multi-billion energy project

I submitted this letter to the Western Mail, Wales' national newspaper, today:
You report Keith Parker, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, as saying of the Westminster government decision to support a new nuclear power plant in Wales: “This is a positive step in securing the UK’s long-term electricity supply and carbon-reduction targets.” (“Decision paves the way for further decisions that could see go-ahead given for Wylfa power station in 2018,” 29 January)

Western Mail readers deserve to know the nature of the Parliamentary scrutiny that has taken place to endorse this ministerial decision by the Secretary of State for Energy, Ed Davey.

On 21 January, a committee of the House of Commons ( The 9th Delegated Legislation Committee) spent a grand total of 17 minutes examining the decision in favour of  the merits of Wylfa Newydd on Angelsey.

(Draft Justification Decision (Generation of Electricity by the UK ABWR Nuclear Reactor) Regulations 2015;

A few days later , on  27 January, the matter was “examined” in the House of Lords, led by junior energy minister, Baroness Verma, who observed of the project: "it must first undergo a high-level assessment to determine whether its economic, social or other benefits outweigh the health detriment that it may cause.”

The entire Lords examination lasted 12 minutes. ie less than 30 minutes between two Houses of Parliament. That is surely a scandal!

Baroness Verma also asserted to peers: “We considered the risk of detriments arising from an accident or terrorist incident. Such possible detriments already exist, and the risk of such incidents should be seen in the context of the regulatory regime, which is intended to prevent accidents and protect against terrorist attack. We are confident in the regulatory regimes for the safety and security of civil nuclear installations and materials in the UK, and consider that the likelihood of an accident or other incident giving rise to a release of radioactive material is very small.”

(Justification Decision (Generation of Electricity by the UK ABWR Nuclear Reactor) Regulations 2015

I think in the current circumstances of terrorist threats worldwide, including the growth of personal access to drones, many people in Wales might find this  very complacent.

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