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News - 29 October 2005
Will the lights go out this winter?

Nuclear assumes ‘renewable’ energy status as local businesses try to economise

The Science Minister and the Prime Minsister have given the strongest indication yet that the UK will use nuclear power stations to bridge our looming energy gap and, at the same time, reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Energy Minister - Lord Salisbury - told the House of Lords last week that it would be “very optimistic” to believe that the government could meet its sustainability target of producing 20% of energy requirements from wind, wave or solar power.

Many commentators see this, and other comments from sources close to the government, as preparing the ground for the reintroduction of new nuclear facilities to be included in the energy white paper due out next year. In an article in the Observer on 30th October Tony Blair said: - "We need to see how the existing energy technologies we have such as wind, solar and - yes - nuclear.... can generate the low carbon power the world needs"

The issue is increasingly important not only to ensure that the UK meets its Kyoto targets on greenhouse gasses but also because energy supply and cost are moving up the UK (and global) economic agenda. Conflicting signals from government have indicated both that there might be an energy shortage this winter (Trade & Industry Secretary Alan Johnson and Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks) and that there won’t be (Leader of the Commons Geoff Hoon).

In terms of cost household energy bills in the UK have risen by nearly £8bn in the past 18 months. The cost to industry is unclear but the situation has reached the point where FSB is launching a campaign next month to improve the terms and conditions given to small businesses by power suppliers. Because they often face large cancellation fees if they try to get out of contracts SMEs find themselves locked into higher prices and suppliers did not always make terms and conditions clear.

Meanwhile in Brighton & Hove over 155 local businesses have benefited from advice on how to save energy. EcoSys, in conjunction with Brighton & Hove City Council, has run a series of seminars aimed at cutting energy usage and minimising waste.

The organisations that have attended the seminars have gone away with useful tips on how to save money and make a contribution to saving the planet by reducing their use of water and electricity and cutting down on waste.

The courses include practical exercises and case studies. The next seminars will be held on the 26th October and 9th November 2005. For further information call 01273 245654.


Read related items on:
Hoon, Geoff
Johnson, Alan
Sainsbury, Lord

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