Sunday, 18 July 2010


Post-election it seems to have gone pretty quiet at Westminster in relation to developing sustainable green energy - we have yet to see what damage the 'new financial reality / austerity' will inflict on efforts to develop alternative sustainable green energy. The Nuclear option may well still be on the table, one significant question that needs to be addressed is who will be sat around the table if and when the Nuclear conversation takes place. 

The Scottish Government will be a full party to any discussions about the construction of any new generation of Nuclear power plants in Scotland and along with the Scottish people it will play a full part in the planning process. In Wales things are quite different, the National Assembly may end up as a coat holder, actioning decisions made elsewhere in relation to Energy Policy in general and Nuclear Energy in particular.

Now this fact should be a matter of serious concern, especially when it comes to Nuclear Energy developments that may take place within or near to Wales - any planning processes related to Energy provision should take place with the full involvement of the people of Wales and their elected representatives and alternative energy generation schemes should be fully and seriously considered as well - this may not however, be the case.

The failure to devolve control of planning consent for 50MW power generation projects to the National Assembly when combined with the role of the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) runs the risk of damaging our economic prospects for only with complete planning control over power generation can Wales generate long–term sustainable job opportunities.

The final years of the New Labour Government (if government is an appropriate word for it) may well end up by being written off as a literal case of the lights being on but nobody being at home. there were few new or fresh original ideas about solving our energy problems. Back in 2008, Gordon Brown's cabinet rubber stamped Tony Blair's decision to back the nuclear option to solve the UK energy needs.

This decision was both disappointing and short-sighted, but, was not unexpected. By making nuclear power its priority the failing Brown Government effectively abandoned any serious attempts to conserve energy, and significantly undermined its own commitments to tackling climate change.

When it comes to power generation there are real job opportunities here that need to be fully grasped; the renewable energy sector should play an immensely important role in creating more green energy jobs. We need to create a decentralised power generation system which will create sustainable long-term jobs for local people, not damage the environment and contribute to providing our local communities with a long-term viable economic energy future.

Now is definitely the time for control of energy policy to be devolved to the National Assembly and time for some original non nuclear thinking and a fundamental sea change in attitude from all levels of government in Wales towards energy policy.

The Scottish Government has already set out a wide-ranging vision to address climate change, which includes a drive to boost renewable energy such as wind and wave power. Scottish Ministers also aim to see significant progress in boosting the energy efficiency of buildings, increase the number of electric vehicles on the roads and aim to cut in emissions across the farming and rural sector.

This is serious forward thinking on the part of the Scottish government as energy experts have for several years been consistently warning of a serious future shortfall in Britain's energy supplies, as a result of the rapid depletion of Britain's North Sea gas reserves, the increasingly tough regulations on carbon emissions from Britain's ageing coal-fired power plants and the planned decommissioning of 14 of 15 existing nuclear generating stations by 2025.

Imagine what we could do if the National Assembly possessed similar powers to develop the alternative energy sector here in Wales. In Wales, we need real direction when it comes to the development of safe and secure energy resources, power generation can provide the potential for real sustainable long term job opportunities; the renewable energy sector can and should play an immensely important role in creating more green energy jobs.

Beyond this there is a need to unify the power generation and supply companies into a single entity, preferably run on a not for profit basis, in the interests of the inhabitants of the UK rather than big businesses. A growing number of people are coming around to the conclusion that this decision was influenced by an unholy combination of irresponsibility and self-interest - it's certainly worth having a look to see which former Conservative and New Labour Minster's have made that transition from Government benches to the Boardroom over the years since energy privatisation.

Whether or not it was a matter of irresponsibility for successive Conservative and New Labour Government's to leave the energy sector largely and effectively unregulated as the private energy companies - is probably no longer open for discussion. The Energy companies have proved themselves almost entirely incapable of making long term strategic decisions that are necessary to provide us with safe and secure energy.

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