Secret ‘subsidy’ for nuclear in UK budget

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by G.A.Ponsonby 

The UK coalition budget contained a secret subsidy for the nuclear industry, SNP MP Mike Weir has claimed.

Speaking after Wednesday’s Budget the SNP Energy Spokesman revealed that UK chancellor George Osborne’s plans contained an ‘underhand subsidy’ of £1.33 billion for the controversial industry as a result of the ‘Carbon Floor Price’ (CFP) which is a tax levied on industries who pollute.

Mr Osborne plans to introduce the CFP of £16 per tonne from 2013, rising to £30 a tonne by 2020.

Commenting after his exchange with Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, Mr Weir said: “This is nothing more than an underhand subsidy to nuclear power.  The new figures, published this morning, show that the Tory plans will mean a huge windfall for existing nuclear power stations, never mind the new ones that the UK favours.”

Critics of nuclear generation claim that new nuclear plants cannot be built without huge public subsidy.  They point to figures that indicate that no nuclear power plant anywhere in the world has ever been built without public subsidy and a new plant proposed in the USA is receiving huge subsidies through soft loans.

The industry is still reeling after the earthquake in Japan led to catastrophe at the nuclear facility in Fukushima.  The situation at the stricken Daiichi plant remains critical and radiation levels 1,600 higher than normal were found 20 kilometres from the plant on Monday.  Yesterday, radioactive iodine 147 times higher than the legal limit was found in seawater some 330 meters from one of the plant’s drainage outlets — the highest level since monitoring began a week ago.

The Japanese government has set an exclusion zone covering areas within a 20-km radius of the plant and has urged people within 20 to 30 km to stay indoors.

The disaster has already led to the Chinese government shelving plans for fifty new facilities and lobbyists in the USA are urging politicians to re-think the nation’s nuclear generation plans.

The SNP believes the UK Government should abandon its plans – supported by Labour and the Lib Dems – to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.

The Nationalists argue that the money should instead be used to invest in clean green renewable generation and increased carbon capture and storage facilities.