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Scottish Parliament Rejects Nuclear Power

MSPs have voted by 63 to 58 to reject nuclear power, exactly a week after Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, committed the UK government to a new generation of such stations.

The Holyrood vote was hailed by SNP ministers as signalling a clean, bright future for Scottish energy.

Jim Mather, the Energy Minister, said: "This vote transforms the terms of the energy debate in Scotland – we now have a Parliament and Government able and willing to take forward Scotland's clean, green energy future. Scotland's energy future is bright."

An alliance of the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens was enough to see the policy through, with the Tories and Labour voting to retain nuclear energy.

Hidden Subsidies for Nuclear Power

The Government's  go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations has sparked a fierce row over financial sweeteners to private sector operators. John Hutton, the Business Secretary, insisted there were no subsidies but the small print of the White Paper showed concessions had been given away.

Private companies who wanted to build new stations would have to pay for the entire cost while "meeting the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs", argued Hutton who said atomic power was needed to reduce carbon and the growing reliance on energy imports.

But a campaign by French nuclear operator, EDF, and others to win Government help for an attractive financial framework which would make nuclear cost-effective against other forms of power appeared to have borne fruit.

· The Government is effectively making electricity generated by coal or gas more expensive by promising "greater certainty for investors" through unilateral action to underpin the price of carbon. Coal and gas power stations emit relatively large quantities of CO2 for which they will need costly permits.

UK Government To Pay Local Communities To Store Nuclear Waste

The operators of the controversial Sellafield nuclear complex have agreed to pay local people in Cumbria some £75m for expanding the only national dump for low-level nuclear waste.

The unprecedented deal – which is being called a "bribe" – is widely thought to be the precursor of a payment of at least £1bn to the community that agrees to take a much more controversial planned repository for infinitely more dangerous waste that will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years.

The Government plans to invite communities across Britain to "express an interest" in hosting such a repository, and expects them to put forward proposals for inducements to take it that will "enhance "their "wellbeing".

Professor Gordon MacKerron, who until recently chaired the Government's official Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), said that the "totally surprising" move sets set a precedent for a much more expensive deal over a more controversial repository.

Annual Trident Maintenance Cost

Hansard, 3 Dec 2007 : Column 845W

 

Trident: Finance

 

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the

estimated annual maintenance cost of the Trident weapons system is

expected to be in (a) 2007-08 and (b) each year until 2024. [169443]

 

Des Browne: The annual expenditure for capital and running costs of the

current Trident nuclear deterrent, including costs for the Atomic

Weapons Establishment, is expected to be around £1,500 million in

2007-08 and 2008-09, some 5 per cent. of the defence budget, and around

£1,700 million in 2009-10 and 2010-11, some 5 1/4 per cent. of the

defence budget. Spending plans for subsequent years will be set as part

of the Government's spending review process.

£4 Miilion Dounreay Clean-Up Cost

THE bill to deal with Dounreay's radioactive liquor spill within a waste plant is now expected to be over £4 million.

The job of recovering the fissile material which accidentally spewed on to the floor of a shielded cell in September 2005 has been much tougher than initially envisaged. A failure of management systems led to intermediate-level active liquid waste spilling over a steel drum after an automatic mechanism to release its lid failed to activate.

Before the flow was stemmed, 58 gallons had poured out, much of it mixing with a separate feed of cement powder.

It has also halted operation at the plant where the highly-active liquor – viewed as the site's highest hazard – is cemented in drums before being put in long-term storage.

Those dealing with the clean-up initially envisaged having the plant back in action in the summer of last year at a cost of about £1 million. But it has proved much trickier than anticipated.

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Funding eliminated for new US warhead

As a result of action by Congress there will be no funding for programme to build a new US 
nuclear warhead, the Reliable Replacement Warhead, in the next financial year, 2008.
Funding was finally eliminated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act signed by President Bush
on 26 December.
The plan for a new warhead cannot go forward until the President develops a strategic nuclear 
weapons plan to guide transformation and downsizing of the stockpile and nuclear weapons complex.
 

New missile may not fit

Research by Scottish CND has established that the US are planning to build new nuclear missiles to replace Trident. 
The new system is called the Underwater Launched Missile System (ULMS). However the US will not have ULMS in
service until 2029 and have not yet established the capabilities required of the missile, let alone its dimensions.  A test
bed for the new missile will be designed to allow for options of missiles wider and heavier than Trident.
 
This may pose a major problem for the designers of the new British submarine. The British submarine programme is
running 5 years ahead of its American counterpart.
 
The test bed specifications suggest that the US may ignore the promise which George W Bush made to Tony Blair
- that the new missiles would fit inside a Trident missile tube.

UK Cabinet Split Over Defence Cuts

Proposals to slice up to £15bn from the defence budget over the next decade have been drawn up by the Treasury, provoking bitter rows within Whitehall and the Cabinet at a time when the military are under enormous pressure to meet commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rift has caused the Ministry of Defence to postpone publication of the latest 10-year industrial strategy because Ministers admit current negotiations are ongoing and no agreement has been reached.

Though overall spending on defence is due to rise from £34.1bn next year to £36.9bn in 2010, prior commitments to Trident and two new aircraft carriers mean deep cuts are being drawn up in other areas between now and 2017.

Iran Threat Downgraded

In a blow to Bush administration hawks demanding military strikes on Iran, a US intelligence report reveals that Tehran's secret nuclear weapons programme was shut down four years ago.

The finding concluded: "We do not know whether [Iran] currently intends to develop nuclear weapons." That is in sharp contrast to an intelligence report two years ago that stated Iran was "determined to develop nuclear weapons".

The report was meant to be released last Spring but was delayed to avoid the mistakes of a similar exercise on Iraq in 2002 which exaggerated Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and cleared the way for the US-led invasion.

The report said Iran was not a rogue regime, but a rational country where " decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs."

Attempt to Bury News of Missile Defence Base Attacked

CND wholeheartedly welcomes the comments made by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee The Committee has strongly criticised the Government�s attempt to sneak out the announcement that the American-run base of RAF Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire is to form part of the US Missile Defence system.

 

The influential committee of MPs said that they �regret the manner and timing of the Government's announcement�and the resulting lack of Parliamentary debate on the issue� referring to the release of the news as a written statement on the last day before Parliament broke for the summer.

 

In February then-Prime Minister Tony Blair had promised a full debate �when we have a proposition to put�. Just weeks before the announcement of the decision, a minister told the Commons "discussions are at an early stage and there are no formal proposals". In apparent contradiction to these statements, the decision was announced in July. In response, the Committee �recommend that the Government inform us of the date on which it received the formal proposal from the US to include Menwith Hill in the BMD system�. They also call for a full Parliamentary debate on the proposals.