Belgian warning underlines no future for nuclear

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has underlined the need for Scotland and Europe to phase out nuclear power and invest in clean, green and safe renewable energy sources in reaction to reports of proposed contingency plans by the Belgian Government against a potential nuclear accident.

The new Belgian federal nuclear disaster plan is likely to require that all Belgian citizens are issued with iodine pills to prepare for the consequences of a nuclear accident, after the High Council for Health declared that the current 20km radius from a nuclear power plant (perimeter for receiving iodine pills) is too small and that the radius should be extended to 100km, covering virtually every citizen in Belgium, as well as others in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany.  This follows ongoing concerns about safety at Belgian nuclear plants including the potential for a terrorist attack. 

In parallel, ongoing developments in the project for a new nuclear power plant in the UK at Hinkley Point, reveal potentially enormous costs to the UK taxpayer (with the generators guaranteed an electricity price three times the current market price for 35 years) - including state guarantees on nuclear waste disposal and insurance - financial turmoil at the main investor EDF energy, and repeated delays in construction - similar projects in France and Finland are seriously over-budget and behind schedule. 

In contrast, the Scottish Government's development of new renewable energy technologies like wind and solar has meant that over 50% of our electricity now comes from renewable sources, carbon emissions are down since 1990 by almost 40% - and there will be no nuclear build in Scotland. 

Alyn said:

"Nuclear power is a technology of the past.  When it comes to huge upfront costs, ability to construct projects on time, the potential for enormous taxpayer liabilities, and safety issues, nuclear is simply not competitive.

"The European Parliament recognised this just today with the rejection of the budget discharge for the nuclear research ITER project, which is eating up a significant part of the EU budget which instead could be used to invest in technologies of the future.

"The SNP Government has a proud record on energy to run on in this election, both in promoting "ready to go" sources of energy such as wind and solar, and in encouraging research into technologies which will define the decades to come, like wave and tidal.  In contrast, the UK Government has killed the potential to develop Carbon Capture and Storage in the UK by arbitrarily and without warning eliminating the funding for demonstration projects, and has put all its energy eggs into the leaky Hinkley basket - while across Europe countries like Germany are abandoning nuclear, and countries like Belgium are having to deal with the potentially lethal consequences of failure.

"Scotland is leading the way towards an energy future that has no need for new nuclear, and Europe would be well advised to follow." 

For more information on the Belgian proposals, see