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Green Liberal Democrats - Party Leadership Election Environmental Q&A 7) Nuclear Energy

June 23, 2015 6:30 PM
By Tim Farron and Norman Lamb

The Green Liberal Democrats have sent the two leadership candidates a series of questions, to inform party members, through their responses, about their green credentials.

In the run up to our annual conference in Manchester on June 27th, we will be publishing their answers, one question at a time.

Q7. Can you outline your views on new nuclear electricity generation, including your opinions on traditional and thorium cycle fission reactors, fusion reactors, micro-nuclear (so-called nuclear batteries), and how they might contribute to our medium term energy future?

Norman Lamb Norman Lamb

Tim FarronTim Farron

Above all else, our nuclear policy must be based on scientific evidence. I cannot pretend to have any expertise in the complex issues around different types of fusion and fission generation. If experts are confident that the very significant risks of nuclear generation can be successfully managed, we should be willing to embrace technologies that would allow us to cut carbon emissions in the medium term while we build up our renewable generation capacity. The absolute imperative of tackling climate change has forced me to change my mind on nuclear power - provided there is no public subsidy.

I have never been a fan of nuclear energy, and I would far, far rather have gone down a radically intensive path of developing renewables. However, given that neither Labour nor Conservative governments did this (so that although UK renewable capacity is not increasing, it started from a very low base), and given the urgency of seeing carbon emissions cut, I accept the decision the party reached in 2013, which was to support the construction of new nuclear stations as long as they could be built without public subsidy. It's not up to government to pick specific technologies - industry has to come forward with what they believe to the most commercially viable option.