Friday 26 April 2013

Never mind, it will never happen

I’m not entirely sure what purpose the Conservatives thought they were achieving by holding a debate in the Senedd this week on the building of a new nuclear power station in Ynys Môn.  It’s not a matter over which the Assembly has any power – and the Tories are usually the first to deride other parties for wasting debating time on matters over which they have no influence.
Whatever the intended purpose may have been, it did highlight the problems with energy policy in three of the four parties represented in the Senate.  (Lack of coherence from the fourth is entirely normal.)
For the Tories, it highlighted a willingness to take a step into the financial unknown in support of their big business friends.  It is entirely clear that no nuclear power stations will be built unless they are given public subsidies, guarantees on prices, or clear undertakings to underwrite risks. The fact that the extent of these costs is currently completely unquantified is apparently irrelevant as far as Tories are concerned.  They will be happy to see all of us, as taxpayers, contribute whatever it costs to enable the large companies involved to make their profits.
For Plaid, it highlighted, yet again, that the party’s energy policy has been turned into something of a shambles by short-term electoral considerations.  The party is, as I’ve commented before, apparently opposed to all new nuclear power stations except the ones that companies actually want to build.  And to read the local press in Carmarthenshire at least, it is in favour of all new wind powered stations except the ones that companies actually want to build. Whilst there are still some in the party prepared to argue the case for renewables – and Cynog Dafis had a paean of praise for wind farms in the latest issue of 'the Welsh agenda’ – overall the party’s stance on energy is now completely incoherent, especially when compared to the clear and unequivocal stance it adopted on energy in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Then we come to Labour.  I thought that the comments by the Conservative AM Angela Burns were a little unfair.  Amongst other things she said that there had been little progress from the Welsh government in developing energy policy in Wales. But that’s completely untrue; there has been plenty of progress in developing policy on energy in Wales – the policy on energy produced by the One Wales government between 2007 and 2011 was an extremely good policy.  The problem with the Labour Party stance is that the development of policy and the implementation of policy seem to be seen as two entirely different things.  Policies once developed are put onto a nice big shelf somewhere and the government carries on as though it had never bothered to go through the exercise of developing them.
In any event, the Senate has now declared its support for a new nuclear power station in complete contrast to its previous support for an entirely renewables-based energy policy.  The only saving grace would appear to be that they are no more likely to be able to implement the new policy than they were to implement the old one.


G Horton-Jones said...

The real problem is that those of us who live here in Wales have never seen any benefit from these schemes -- the added value, and taxation not forgetting profit has always left Wales.
The drovers --cattle and sheep
The coal industry
The reservoirs
L N gas pipeline
Wind farms
All spring to mind as having these characteristics.
It is a major inhibitor to our economic growth as our labour benefits others outside Wales more than it does ourselves
Take a holiday let -- at up to £1500 per week where the local income is 2 hours at £10 per hour between 10 and 12 on a Saturday morning --I rest my case

Anonymous said...

Plaid policy on nuclear power has been clear for many years. No new nuclear powers stations to be built on the mainland of Wales.
Plaid do not oppose them on the Flat Holm or other remote islands.

G Horton-Jones said...

Is Anonymous suggesting that Ynys Mon is a remote island and therefore its ok to build a nuclear power station there. This clearly is not Plaids policy.
The bottom line is that we simply have no need for a nuclear power station in Wales
If anonymous cares about reality in tteir lifetime then he/she should look west to the evident threat of volcanic activity from Iceland

John Dixon said...

I'm not sure that Anon really intended to be taken quite as seriously as that.

I think that Plaid's policy - in effect, if not in theory - is that all members are free to take whatever stance they like on nuclear energy.

G Horton-Jones said...

Surely in a democracy all people including members of political parties are free to take whatever stance they choose
Plaid cannot stand by and say that because the Assembly has no control over nuclear planning as this is currently vested in Westminster -- then Plaid aka its supporters and the people of Wales should simply lie down and roll
over to the whim of others outside our Country. --- Dont forget that the majority of Mps are English and it suits them fine if a nuclear power station is in somebody elses constituency even better if its in another country especially Wales

John Dixon said...

"Surely in a democracy all people including members of political parties are free to take whatever stance they choose"

Well, yes, of course they are. But they cannot then say, 'if you elect us, we will do X'; freedom for all individuals to take whatever stance they like means that a party has no collective stance on the issue concerned.