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Nuclear lobbyists in Britain getting favoured treatment

Thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been spent on special meetings between ministers and the nuclear industry in Britain, prompting allegations the government is giving the sector an unfair advantage over renewable energy.

Ministers’ meetings with nuclear lobby raise concerns of favouritism The renewable energy industry is concerned that the government has spent thousands meeting nuclear lobbyists guardian.co.uk, 7 November 2010

Thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been spent on special meetings between ministers and the nuclear industry in Britain, prompting allegations the government is giving the sector an unfair advantage over renewable energy.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has paid more than £8,000 this year for meetings outside government offices with the Nuclear Development Forum – set up to “secure the long-term future of nuclear power generation in the UK”, and help make Britain “the best market in the world for companies to invest in nuclear power”.

Two of those three external meetings with leading energy and engineering companies were attended by the secretaries of state at the time, Labour’s Ed Miliband in March, and Chris Huhne in July, and the third meeting in October by the minister of state, Charles Hendry. Further meetings at the department’s headquarters in Whitehall Place took place, for which costs were not provided.

Concern about the preferential treatment given to the nuclear industry by successive governments is likely to be heightened by the decision last month to abolish the parallel Renewables Advisory Board, which met every quarter at the department and once a year outside, as part of spending cuts. The work of the renewables board will be taken on by the Office for Renewable Energy Deployment, for which there is a parallel Office for Nuclear Development.

The developments are likely to fuel concerns among the many environmental campaigners who oppose nuclear power that the industry has unfair access to the government, as well as benefiting from hidden subsidies.

“They [government] have to come clean about all the money spent on assisting nuclear – and this would be part of that,” said Mike Childs, head of climate campaigns for Friends of the Earth. “It’s important ministers come clean about who they are meeting, when they are meeting, and the issues they are discussing.”……..

The coalition has promised there will be no subsidies for nuclear, but more than half Decc’s £3bn budget last year was spent cleaning up nuclear waste through the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and despite savage cost cuts across the rest of government in last month’s spending review, the NDA budget will continue to rise up until 2014-15. There is widespread expectation that minsters will find other ways to ensure new reactors are built, including by setting a “floor” price for carbon that would make nuclear – and other non-carbon emitting renewable energy sources – more cost competitive.

Another common claim is that assessments of the environmental benefits of nuclear power ignore many of the “upfront costs such as mining and the on-going row over how to dispose of radioactive waste, and that claims nuclear power offers more security of supply are undermined by predicted shortages of uranium.

Ministers’ meetings with nuclear lobby raise concerns of favouritism | Environment | The Guardian

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November 8, 2010 - Posted by | spinbuster, UK | , , , ,

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