Nuclear must be part of the energy mix for the near future

Morning View
Morning View
Share this article

Of all the responses to the decision to approve a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Alex Salmond’s was among the most foolish.

The Scottish National Party MP called for a Westminster vote so that MPs who back what he calls the “monstrous folly” of the plan can be “named and shamed”.

There were legitimate concerns about Hinkley Point, but not those that are uppermost in Mr Salmond’s mind.

The government was worried about the security implications of Chinese involvement in such a major infrastructure project. It was also worried that Hinkley Point was a big and dated type of nuclear plant that is likely to be supplanted in the future by smaller reactors.

But Mr Salmond is coming from a righteous, nationalist policy of ‘no nuclear power’. This is also the Irish nationalist approach, in everywhere from Derry City Council’s “no nuclear” policy to the exaggeration of the health threat from Sellafield to the Republic’s shunning of nuclear power.

Shunning nuclear power sounds noble, but it makes it more difficult for countries to meet carbon emissions targets.

With the Republic partly importing energy from Great Britain, some of it nuclear powered, now is the very time that this island should be considering adopting the most up-to-date nuclear technology.

Political anxiety about renewing nuclear plants in Great Britain has led to a situation where the lights could go out in a few years’ time.

Now that the government has approved the £18 billion Hinkley Point project, we can only hope that the Energy Secretary Greg Clark really is as confident of the “enhanced security measures” as he sounds.

At the very least, Theresa May’s decision to delay the plan has sent a sharp message to Beijing that the UK is keen to trade but not to the extent that it will ever compromise national security in these perilous global times.