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UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt accused of ‘£20bn gamble’ on nuclear energy and carbon capture

Campaigners say chancellor is in the grip of the fossil fuel and nuclear lobbies and is ‘squandering taxpayers’ money’

Guardian, Alex Lawson Energy correspondent, 15 Mar 23

Jeremy Hunt has been accused of wagering a “dangerous gamble on unproven technologies” in an effort to decarbonise Britain’s energy industry after ploughing more than £20bn into a series of projects.

In his budget speech, the chancellor confirmed plans to spend the money over the next two decades on carbon capture and low carbon energy projects; announced a competition to co-fund small nuclear plants and launched a consultation to classify nuclear as “environmentally sustainable”.

The government has created Great British Nuclear, a body designed to ease the creation of nuclear projects which are regularly delayed and over budget, and set a target for nuclear to “provide up to one quarter of our electricity by 2050”.

Hunt, who has been under pressure to respond to Joe Biden’s $369bn (£306bn) of climate subsidies, said: “Increasing nuclear capacity is vital to meet our net zero obligations.”

However, climate campaigners attacked the drive, which had no giveaways for the solar or wind industries.

Ami McCarthy, Greenpeace UK’s political campaigner, said: “This misguided budget shows the stranglehold fossil fuel and nuclear lobbies have on this government. Why else would it take such a dangerous gamble on unproven technologies?

“Squandering taxpayers’ money on nuclear reactors that don’t even exist yet and fanciful carbon capture is irresponsible, and does nothing to reduce our emissions now.

“Committing to £20bn over 20 years is frankly pathetic compared to the green growth investments being made in the US, EU and China.”

Helen Clarkson, chief executive of Climate Group, said: “This spring budget overlooks cheap and clean renewable energy, and instead rebrands nuclear as ‘environmentally sustainable’ and throws cash at carbon capture technology. This was a missed opportunity to renew the UK’s commitment to climate leadership.”

………….. Stuart Murphy, founder of tidal energy specialist TPGen24, said: “There is nothing environmentally sustainable about a finite resource which leaves a legacy of hazardous waste.”………………….


March 16, 2023 - Posted by | politics, UK

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