Along with its Steering Committee and Annual General Meeting, the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) held a special anniversary to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Manchester City Council resolution that initiated the formation of the local government group.
The NFLA unanimously elected Councillor Ernie Galsworthy of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council as its new Steering Committee Chair. Councillor Galsworthy is the first Welsh Chair of the NFLA Steering Committee since 2007.
At its special civic reception to commemorate the November 1980 resolution the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Paul Murphy, who is one of two remaining signatories of the resolution, brought members back to the circumstances of the vote and the ideas that lay behind it. Special guests at the reception included former Manchester Blackley MP Ken Eastham, whose idea for Councils concerned over nuclear issues to develop an association helped form NFLA; and Marie and Brendan Risby, wife and son of the late Councillor Bill Risby, first chair of the association. (1)
The Lord Mayor noted how proud he was to have been involved in the formation of the NFLA and how pleased that it remained an effective voice for local government on nuclear issues some 35 years later. The new NFLA Chair thanked the Lord Mayor and Manchester City Council for hosting the Secretariat and its additional leadership role of the Mayors for Peace.
At the NFLA Steering Committee meeting members agreed to:
- Continue to raise concerns over the financial, health, safety and waste management risks of developing new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, Sizewell, Bradwell, Wylfa and Sellafield Moorside.
- Approve consultation submissions to the NDA’s Draft Strategy 2016 – 2021 and RWM’s geological screening exercise of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Seek to promote the important and essential role local government should have in the development of decentralised energy policies for the promotion of renewable energy, energy efficiency and microgeneration projects via local authority energy companies.
- Endorsed cooperation with Green Cross International for a late January Parliamentary event bringing former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and others to talk about the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima incident and the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl, which both take place in 2016.
- Continue to raise concerns over defence and civil nuclear safety and call for an alternative policy which does not lead to Trident replacement but rather defence diversification, providing UK leadership towards moving in the direction of multilateral nuclear disarmament.
- Calls on the Paris Climate Change Conference to promote renewable energy, energy demand management, energy storage and decentralised energy as a major part of an effective strategy in mitigating the effects of climate change.
At its Annual General Meeting, the NFLA All Ireland Forum Co-Chair raised concerns around public comments made by DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson around seeking the relocation of Trident submarines from Scotland to Northern Ireland in the event of a future independence vote. (2) Members agreed that Northern Ireland is not an appropriate location for Trident submarines, particularly as Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough are on the border with nuclear free and neutral Republic of Ireland. Members also believe the long-term answer is to not renew Trident replacement and rather use the £31 billion planned for the project for developing the armed forces for peace-keeping measures and reduce the deep austerity in local government budgets and other public services.
NFLA Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
I am deeply honoured to be elected as the new Chair of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities on its 35th anniversary. That it has reached such a milestone is testament to it remaining a relevant stakeholder in the nuclear policy debate. NFLA provides a low cost, high quality nuclear policy organisation for its members. It will go into its next five years challenging government and the nuclear industry whilst advocating the positive role local government can play in the renewable energy focused decentralised revolution taking place across the world. I look forward to playing my part in these debates.”
On the Trident resolution, NFLA All Ireland Co-Chair Councillor Mark Dearey said:
I am pleased that the NFLA is an organisation that embraces cooperation with all parts of the British Isles and Ireland. I do not want to see the Trident nuclear submarine programme replaced at all as it is an outdated response in an uncertain and fractured world. It certainly should not be moved from Britain to waters that Northern Ireland shares with the Republic and I urge Jeffrey Donaldson MP to withdraw his suggestion to relocate submarines to Lough Foyle or another Lough. Rather I hope the DUP can work with parties North and South to reduce the nuclear threat affecting all of us, whether it’s from Trident or from the ongoing radioactive contamination of the Irish Sea by Sellafield.”
- Message from the Mayor of Hiroshima
- Message from the President of the National Council of Japan Nuclear Free Local Authorities
- Message from the Deputy Mayor for the Environment of the City of Vienna
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 07771 930196.
Notes for editors:
(1) A photo from Friday’s civic reception is attached with this media release.
(2) Derry Journal, 24th November 2015 http://www.derryjournal.com/news/donaldson-suggests-lough-foyle-as-possible-home-for-uk-s-trident-nuclear-weapons-system-1-7082822