Monday, 23 April 2007

Plaid U-Turn on Nuclear Power - Briefing #2

Following an earlier article on Plaid's nuclear u-turn explaing why we opposed nuclear power in principle, Adam Johannes from Cardiff RESPECT explains why even on his own terms, Ieuan Wyn Jones' argument for Wylfa B is bogus.

The Leader of Plaid explains why their manifesto doesn't oppose nuclear power:

"The reason there is no reference to nuclear energy in our manifesto is because it is a non-devolved issue, with decisions taken at Westminster."

This was the same argument used by the Leader of Welsh Labour to justify his lack of position on Iraq. It attracted ridicule then & it deserves ridicule now.

It is also a little disingenuous.

In both their 1999 and 2003 Assembly Manifesto's Plaid took a position on nuclear power, they were unequivocally against - only in 2007 does it suddenly become a devolved issue that therefore doesn't require comment, many will suspect this is because the leadership has chosen to support Wylfa B.

We in RESPECT oppose nuclear power on principle, but even on his own terms, the leader of Plaid's arguments that he has to support a new nuclear power station in Anglesey due to jobs and the local economy are spurious and misleading.

In this briefing I aim to explain why:


Plaid claims this about jobs. But Wylfa Nuclear Power Station in Anglesey is due to close in 3 years.

The new nuclear power station - Wylfa B - won't be built until at least 2020! Yet we could transfer to renewable energy sources more cheaply in less than 6 years. These new jobs that Plaid tell us about are years away. What do the people of Anglesey do in the mean time?

Plaid also ignore the rich job creating possibilities of renewable energy. There is potentially huge employment for workers in the installation of a vast amount of marine current turbines and maybe even their manufacture according to research by FoE Cymru.


The Welsh Assembly has resisted the UK government's interest in building new nuclear power stations in Wales.

Ieuan Wyn Jones's u-turn on Nukes represents capitulation.

It also facilitates New Labour's plan to embark on a new programme of building nuclear power stations rather than transfering to renewables.

Plaid are also encouraging nuclear proliferation, if the UK pushes ahead with it's nuclear programme then how can they argue that other countries in the world don't go nuclear?

This increases the danger of another Chernobyl and increased pollution: Radioactive contamination from Sellafield can still be found in the Irish Sea.


The closure of Wylfa in 3 years will result in an electricity gap. How to fill the gap? The government want to continue down the nuclear power/nuclear weapons route. But nuclear power is massively expensive and relies on millions of pounds of tax payers money in subsidies.

Plaid are closing the door to renewables filling the gap by supporting Wylfa B. Plaid and New Labour want to spend 10 years building Wylfa B, a new nuke on Anglesey. But we could transfer to renewables much faster and much cheaper.

Wylfa currently provides around 30% of Wales' electricity.

Existing and proposed offshore and onshore windfarms could generate almost the same amount of electricity in less than 6 years, and tidal lagoons on the severn and Swansea Bay might be able to generate more electricity than Wales needs.

The prospects for renewable energy on Anglesey are actually pretty favourable, just off the Wylfa headland there's a very strong marine current flow, some environmentalists argue that massive amounts of renewable energy could be coaxed through underwater turbines - possibly rivalling the output of Wylfa.

So the choice is a speedy transfer to renewables and educating the electorate, or copping out and arguing for a new nuke that probably won't be built until 2020 at the earliest and would rely on massive public subsidies and pave the way for more nuclear power stations.

There is potentially huge employment for workers in the installation of a vast amount of marine current turbines and maybe even their manufacture according to research by FoE Cymru.

So the choice is between cleaner, cheaper, more environmentally friendly job creating renewables or Plaid and New Labour's expensive, dangerous, unclean, unsustainable, polluting new Nukes.

RESPECT says make Wales and the UK a 'global showcase for clean energy' and demonstrate that nuclear power is unnecessary, unsafe, unclean and uneconomic.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One point of contention to an otherwise excellent analysis.

It is possible that if a replacement was due in the near future, Wylfa could be kept open (naturally with safety compromised) until the new station was ready - so the jobs argument vaguely holds water.