The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) held its Annual General Meeting and Annual Policy Seminar last Friday in Newry, electing a new Chairman and discussing core issues around the urgent steps required with decarbonisation, the real concerns over the impacts of nuclear power and the dangerous issues relating to a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
Councillor David Blackburn of Leeds City Council was elected the new Chair of the NFLA Steering Committee. Councillor Blackburn is also the first Green councillor elected to the position in the history of the NFLA. He will be ably supported by National NFLA Chairs that come from other political parties, including Labour, the SNP and the SDLP. Indeed, NFLA has representatives from 14 political parties and independent groups across its four NFLA National Forums.
The NFLA Annual Policy Seminar heard from speakers in the following areas of policy:
- Paul Price from the An Taisce (Irish National Trust) Climate Change Committee reported that politicians at the local and national level must now move rapidly to initiate policies to mitigate the effects of climate change. Inaction or half-hearted action is simply not an option to deliver zero carbon towns and cities over the next two decades. NFLA calls on the Irish Government to speed up its low carbon policies, where it is amongst one of the slowest to develop renewable energy in the EU.
- Attracta Ui Bhroin from the environmental group An Claíomh Glas (Green Sword) outlined the real concerns that continue across the Irish Sea over the real and potential impacts of the UK legacy and proposed new nuclear programme on the island of Ireland. She encouraged Irish Councils to respond to the current Irish Government consultation on the transboundary impacts of the proposed Wylfa B nuclear reactor. NFLA is developing a model response for its members. (1)
- NFLA Secretary Sean Morris outlined the current position and the real risks to both the UK and Ireland around a ‘no deal’ Brexit in areas including nuclear policy, energy policy and defence policy. The continuing problems of finding a deal persist after yesterday’s Parliamentary vote was cancelled, leaving a ‘no deal’ Brexit a distinct and alarming possibility. (2)
The real difficulties with new nuclear build have also come to light again, with media reports suggesting that the Japanese utility Hitachi may be considering pulling out of the Wylfa B project, despite a generous and very expensive offer of one-off investment being proposed from the UK Government; due to the company struggling to find the finance for the project. (3)
Following on from the collapse of the Toshiba planned project to deliver Sellafield Moorside, the issues at Wylfa – despite a planning inquiry currently in place for the project – suggest that the sheer cost of funding such projects is not now possible, even for large energy utilities. Given the copious amount of evidence that renewable energy projects and energy efficiency projects can be provided at lower cost in considerably quicker time, it surely now time for the UK Government to give up on new nuclear and truly embrace renewables.
For its part, the NFLA will continue to encourage Councils across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to deliver local, decentralised low carbon projects that bring about a step-change in the provision of renewable electricity, heating and transport, as well as delivering energy efficiency insulation projects at a much faster pace. Such policies are inevitably challenging in an era of deep austerity for local government, but it remains incumbent on Councils to continue to find innovative and imaginative ways to deliver decarbonisation over the next 20 years. (4)
NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I am honoured to be elected as NFLA Chair and am proud to follow in the footsteps of visionary councillors who have for almost 40 years highlighted the dangers of nuclear weapons and the more sustainable waste-free renewable energy alternatives to nuclear power. In the past week we have seen the failure of politics on a national scale in regards to Brexit, as well as the failure of governments to not agree to some of the core components of the IPCC report on climate change and its critical call for urgent action.
“NFLA is fully aware of the need for urgency in such important areas of policy, and I call on transformational leadership and much-needed investment at the local, national and global level to realise the need for dynamic decarbonisation projects. The same vision is needed on nuclear weapons, where the support of towns and cities to back the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty needs to be replicated by the UK Government. I will work with NFLA staff and fellow councillors as such success in energy and international relations policy is now needed more than ever before.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) For the NFLA’s model response on the transboundary impact of Hinkley Point C (its response on Wylfa B will be similar) see NFLA New Nuclear Monitor 53 –
(2) The presentations from the NFLA Annual Policy Seminar will be placed on to the NFLA website shortly –
http://www.nuclearpolicy.info or are available by email from the NFLA Secretary – firstname.lastname@example.org
(3) Guardian 10th Dec 2018
(4) NFLA Policy Briefing on decentralised energy best practice –