The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the premiere of a new film that seeks to promote debate on why nuclear power has remained so resilient and attractive to governments and many communities over many decades, whilst also considering its obvious limitations.
‘The Atom – A Love Affair’ is an informative documentary developed by Vicki Lesley and Dartmouth Films that tells the turbulent story of the ‘love-hate’ relationship with nuclear power in the world over the past seventy years. (1)
It has taken 10 years to put the film together. As Dartmouth’s media release notes: “The film charts the social and political development of nuclear power — and our changing relationship with it — since the end of the Second World War. Capturing both the tantalising promise and the repeated disappointments of this singular technology, the film reveals how the post-war, romantic fantasy of an atom-powered future developed into the stormy, on-off relationship still playing out today. A tale of scientific passion and political intrigue all wrapped up in the packaging of a sentimental screen melodrama. It’s a story of deeply felt convictions, political manoeuvring, blunders, crisis and reinvention.”
As a group involved in that debate on a weekly basis, NFLA is pleased this film is being released to the public, and hopes it may also be shown later in the year on terrestrial television. NFLA has always been acutely aware of the difficulties in having a full and open debate on nuclear power given the entrenched positions, and lack of trust, on both sides. As an organisation that has attended countless nuclear policy stakeholder engagements over the past 4 decades, and is a consistent critic of the need for new nuclear power now, it is timely that there should be a new public debate on this issue at the present time.
Renewable energy, which as little as ten years ago looked a small part of our energy future, is now the cheapest and most realisable low carbon energy source on the planet now. In recent months it has accounted for as much as two thirds of energy generation in the UK and renewables has even out-produced fossil fuels earlier this year in Ireland. NFLA believes it is useful to have a debate now on how the share of energy generation in the future should come from nuclear. The NFLA has felt nuclear power has had an overly privileged position with government, which is still the same today. NFLA expects this film to highlight some of those power relationships and we call on government to review whether now is the time, as we believe, for a fundamental move away from nuclear power and nuclear weapons, as well as fossil fuels, towards renewable energy, heating and transport.
It is helpful to have a film that charts the way nuclear power has been pushed and supported for the past 70 years, as well as seeing the principled opposition to it. The plans for full and frank debate over the film have had to be changed due to the Covid-19 lockdown, but it is good there will be a web chat with the film’s director and narrator on Friday. (2) NFLA hopes further debate can take place in public over the year as community screenings of the film take place.
In the Dartmouth Films media release the film director, Vicki Lesley explained: “Made over a decade and filmed across four countries, this film has been an epic undertaking delving into the history of arguably the most controversial energy source of the 20th century. The end result, I believe, has something important, and timely, to say about our relationship with large-scale technologies — who owns them, who gets to make decisions about them and where the balance lies between governments, big business and the public. But it was also really important to me to explore the human dimensions of this polarising subject. I’ve gone on a real journey myself, getting into the minds of people with very different viewpoints than my own and trying to understand how and why different people react so differently to nuclear power by understanding their own very personal experiences of it, something I hope I’ve managed to do with a degree of empathy, nuance — and a little warm humour.”
NFLA Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I welcome the effort of Vicki Lesley and all at Dartmouth Films for getting the film ‘Atom – a Love Affair’ off the ground and ready for showing this Friday, and encourage all interested in energy policy to watch it. NFLA welcomes a full and open debate on nuclear power as it rarely happens in the wider media. NFLA hopes the film allows policymakers to understand that this is the time for a full review of the need for new nuclear. NFLA believes such a review would conclude that nuclear has had its day, and the world should move, as it is already is doing, to renewable energy solutions as well as a nuclear weapons free world.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes to Editors:
(1) The Atom: A Love Affair will be available to watch online from Friday, 15th May, 2020.
For more information https://www.curzonhomecinema.com/film/watch-atom-a-love-affair-online
(2) The Curzon Living Room Q&A with director Vicki Lesley and narrator Lily Cole will begin at 8:30pm on Friday, 15th May, 2020. The Q&A will be live via Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Curzon Home Cinema