How is your area affected?
The Government wants the energy sector to build more nuclear power stations despite the advice from its Commission for Sustainable Development that these are not needed. Government insists new nuclear will not undermine its commitment to increase renewable energy capacity and reduce energy wastage, but inevitably the resources and political capital required to deliver new nuclear will undermine programmes to develop more efficient, decentralised and renewable energy capacity. It will undermine the political will to improve energy efficiency and cut waste.
Most local authorities will lose out by not realising the local economic and jobs potential in the development of a distributed and decentralised power generation system. If new nuclear goes ahead then jobs will be concentrated in a few locations rather than many.
Nuclear is not the best way to tackle climate change. Research shows energy saving is seven times more effective per pound spent than investment in nuclear. Local authorities and local communities would gain far more from local investment in energy efficiency. It is better for the climate and more effective at reducing fuel poverty.
A nuclear accident anywhere in the UK (or overseas) could affect your area. Major nuclear accidents have very long lived legacies. The polluting fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 still leaves livestock in parts of Cumbria too radioactive for human consumption.
People in your area consume produce from areas polluted by the nuclear industry (and visit or work in those areas). Nuclear wastes are routinely dispersed into the environment by discharge to sea and air. Future radioactive waste management policy has implications for storage or transportation through your area, and for disposal in local landfill or incineration.
The nuclear industry is having to deal with the clean up of the first generation of nuclear stations and other nuclear facilities. The newly formed Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estimates the decommissioning task at £70 billion but this is likely to increase as the scale of the clean up task reveals itself. There is pressure to relax standards to allow greater ‘free release’ of contaminated materials (concrete rubble, soils and metals) from decommissioned nuclear sites to reduce costs. There is a risk, for example, that contaminated metals could be recycled back into consumer goods. The risk may be very low but local authorities have an interest in ensuring radioactive wastes are concentrated and safely contained, not diluted and dispersed throughout the environment.
Local government has a responsibility to promote public safety, preserve the environment and inform the public. Nuclear Free Local Authorities help and advise local authorities on the best way to do this by providing information that enables councils to engage the nuclear policy decision making process, bring greater transparency to that process, identify local impacts and increase accountability to local people.