» Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Put to the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) that though there was consultation regarding the future of energy in the UK there was a clear view that nuclear energy would pay a large part in the future, the PMOS said that the consultation was real but equally the analysis was real and the analysis is very clear that we are increasing renewable sectors substantially, up to 20 percent, we are investing in clean coal technology, but all of that will not fill the gap left by 20 percent of our current electricity needs being met by nuclear; those stations need to be renewed within the next 15 years. We are doing everything we can as the planning paper from earlier this week showed; for instance it will be easier to out up wind turbines and so on. But there is still a gap there and that gap has to be filled. Nuclear energy does meet climate change needs.

Asked if the Prime Minister still believed that the security around supply of energy was as potentially as important as the defence of the country, the PMOS said that in the past 12 months that there had been occasions, such as in Belarus and other areas, where others had tried to use energy supply for other purposes and this high lighted that it is a vital national interest. Both the climate change aspect and the energy security aspect drive in the same direction.

Asked if given the Litvinenko case the current state of relations with Russia added to the issue of energy security, the PMOS said in terms of the basic analysis it was coincidental, the analysis about energy security and the dangers of over reliance on one source is quite clear. The concerns about over reliance on the one source have been around for some time.

Asked if building new nuclear power stations started tomorrow, how long would it be before they were operational, the PMOS said what had to be taken into account was the planning process and so on, this was partly the reasoning behind the changes in planning regulations that were being made. If the process is not started within the timescales set out then there will be an energy gap.

Asked if it was of any concern to the Government that the Scottish National Party (SNP) said that it would not approve any planning permission for nuclear power stations, the PMOS said it would be better not to get into speculation about the discussions with the Scottish Executive. Asked what the discussions would be and when they would happen, the PMOS said that reporters should recognise that it was early days for both the Scottish Executive and in terms of central Government’s relationship with that Executive.

Asked if the Government thought that the time frame for the White Paper would lead to protests, the PMOS said that was a matter for those who do the protesting not for the Government. What was important was that we realise there were national interest concerns as it took nearly 7 years to go from initial planning application to completion for Terminal 5 at Heathrow. For vital national assets that length of time was just not acceptable. There is a cost to the national interest in terms of delays to such major infrastructure projects and that has to be dealt with.

Asked what legislation could be expected in relation to the new power nuclear stations, the PMOS said in terms of legislation it would be best to speak to the department.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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