Brian Wilson in standard mode this week: apoplectic. The sense of self-importance and enshrined right-to-rule is most evident with Unionist politicians like Wilson but the sheer hypocrisy is breathtaking. Last week he used his regular platform in the Scotsman to pour disdain on the Scottish Government’s use of consultants to give expertise on defence, referring to “paying consultants substantial sums of public money” as if such a thing was anathema.
This week he is bemoaning the fact that the nuclear industry doesn’t have the feather-bedding it does in England. He cheers for the idea of a Hinkley C and calls Scotland’s energy policy “Salmond’s nuclear fatwa” (memo to Brian, it’s called a mandate).
But of course this week and last week’s articles are linked.
Last week Mr Wilson was foaming at the mouth about secrecy, yet this week he seems to have avoided to mention that in October 2005, he was appointed non-executive director of AMEC Nuclear Holdings Ltd, the nuclear services arm of AMEC plc. The announcement boasted that the firm is the UK’s largest private nuclear services business.
He presents nuclear power as some kind of magic fairy dust solutions to energy problems, yet last November, the lone journalist who really cares about this stuff revealed that more than 400 of the recommendations made to improve the safety of British nuclear plants after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan last year still have to be implemented, according to the Brit government’s own Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).
Earlier this year it was announced that to clean up Sellafailed was going to cost around £70 billion.
That’s £70 billion, just to clean it up.
A report told that Britain is storing an “extraordinary accumulation of hazardous nuclear waste” in “outdated facilities” which will cost nearly £70bn to clean up, MPs warned.
In fact earlier this year the UK government was accused of “failing to keep its word” after an official document revealed that the cost of decommissioning nuclear power plants had been underestimated to the tune of £16 billion.
According to a House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts report the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s estimated cost of civil nuclear decommissioning increased by around £16 billion to £53 billion between 2007 and 2011.
According to the report: “The Treasury acknowledged that not considering these costs when the power stations were built had been a mistake.”
Pause a second and ask yourself, what solar, tidal and win energy could you get for £70 billion investment? With Germany threatening Britain by the threat of a good example, the sharp divide between Westminster and Holyrood on English energy policy may become more of an issue in the weeks ahead.
In February 2009 Labour’s man in Scotland Jim Murphy announced Labours commitment to a new generation of nuclear power stations in Scotland. In March of the same year Iain Gray – Scotland’s Homer – was broadcasting from Torness Power station. Of course that didn’t quite work out and it’s one of the reasons why Wilson is so bitter.
Labour’s nuclear links were legendary.
When he was ‘Environment Secretary’ (sic) David Miliband got himself all embroiled in a sleaze row over his links to nuclear industry lobbyist Alan Donnelly who chaired the minister’s local constituency party. Donnelly’s lobbying firm, represents the US multinational Fluor, one of the world’s biggest nuclear companies, which was hoping to win a stake in the £70 billion British nuclear waste market. Donnelly also founded and helps to run the Transatlantic Nuclear Energy Forum (Tanef), an organisation that aims to foster “strong relationships” between nuclear power companies and governments.
But Miliband and Wilson aren’t alone.
Yvette Coopers father, ex-trade union official Tony Cooper, is the former chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, and was director of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
Former Chancellor Gordon Brown (you know the one who’s sorting out Dalgety Bay?) – his brother, Andrew, is EDF’s head of media relations in the UK. Labour peer Lord Cunningham, Tony Blair’s former “cabinet enforcer” and the ex chairman of the Friends of Sellafield campaign was also “legislative chair” of the Transatlantic Nuclear Energy Forum.
So let’s not blame the Tories.
It’s clear that it’s impossible to disentangle nuclear power from the military, but as a proud and unrepentant backer of the Iraq war (he was Blair’s special envoy) Wilson would no doubt spare no blushes over that either. What a fraud.