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Nuclear power – a bad decision? Jonathon Porritt, Tony Juniper, Charles Secrett and Tom Burke write to the Prime Minister

Just days after the first anniversary of Japan’s worst nuclear disaster in Fukushima, four of the UK’s leading environmentalists Jonathon Porritt, Tony Juniper, Charles Secrett and Tom Burke, all former directors of Friends of the Earth, have cautioned David Cameron that he is being badly advised by DECC on nuclear power.

They assert that the UK is out of step with other countries on nuclear power. Japan is set to substantially reduce its current nuclear use, and countries such as Germany and Italy are confident they can meet their energy and climate security needs with no reliance on nuclear power.

The letter and accompanying note set out a range of political and economic risks that the four former directors of Friends of the Earth believe have not yet featured in advice to the Prime Minister. Because this is a matter of public interest and there are ‘implications across government’, copies were also sent to:

§ Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

§ George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer

§ Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

§ Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary

§ Vince Cable, Business Secretary. 

They point out that the French will build new nuclear reactors in the UK only if the financial risks involved are transferred from France to British households and businesses – leaving UK taxpayers to pick up the bill to protect the French nuclear industry.

The nuclear plans proposed by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and EDF are based on a type of reactor that France has been advised to abandon. EDF intends to construct four European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) at Hinkley and Sizewell, yet the French National Audit Office has recommended abandonment of the EPR as too complex and expensive. François Roussely, the former head of EDF, also advised President Sarkozy that EPRs should be abandoned. Experience with constructing two EPRs in Finland and France has been woeful – both are already four years late and costs are running twice as high as originally projected.

By following these links readers can see the full Press Release, cover letter and the Note to the Prime Minister.