The prime minister’s speech at the national conference of the CBI emphasized his belief that nuclear power stations have excellent potential in fighting climate change and improving energy security. The government had launched a public consultation on the issue which recently finished, and Brown said an official announcement will be made early next year.
Greenpeace is at the forefront of opposition to the plans. It tried to stop the consultation with a legal challenge, but that only led to the consultation taking longer than expected. They believe the Prime Minister has an unhealthy interest in nuclear power. The Greenpeace executive director said:
“Brown’s speech is a re-run of Tony Blair’s speech – at the same location – to the CBI two years ago when he called for new nuclear power stations. The Prime Minister last week outlined plans to generate 20 per cent of our energy from renewable sources, now just one week later we are back to the old mantra of nuclear power. Declarations like this threaten to strangle the renewables industry before it can even get close to that 2020 target.”
The government has already angered many environmental groups by pressing ahead with the expansion of Heathrow airport, another move Brown supported in his speech. Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:
“Last week Gordon Brown spoke about the need to take action on the environment, but today he talked of airport expansion and a new generation of nuclear power stations. This is an incoherent view from a Prime Minister lacking a vision for Britain’s future. His support for the expansion of Heathrow shows a flippant disregard for the damage that a growing aviation sector is having on the environment. It also ignores the concerns of millions of Londoners who are increasingly suffering from aircraft noise…Gordon Brown is wedded to building a new generation of nuclear power stations without providing any new evidence on how it would deal with waste or how new stations would be financed without spending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.”
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