LETTER: Energy Bill must focus on renewable sources

It is good our MP supports the Coalition Government’s White Paper to protect the natural environment (“MP gives thumbs up to green measures”, Leader Times, June 17th).

It is clear that safeguarding and enhancing the biodiversity and ecology of nature is vital. I hope this pledge will also be complemented in the new Localism Bill and be reflected in the Pendle Local Development Framework, which is due to replace the Local Plan.

It is also crucial we also make the connections between biodiversity/ecology and climate change – they are closely inter-related. Unfortunately, the MP’s initiative could be undermined if the Conservative wing of the Coalition Government is allowed to pursue its policy of deregulation in the “Red Tape Challenge” - to review legislation and regulations of which many protect the environment. For instance, the hit list includes 278 environmental regulations as well as a campaign by some to scrap legislation such as the Climate Change Act, the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the National Parks Act.

There seems to be conflicting signals between the Lib Dems and Conservatives in Government. Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne and Vince Cable are working to retain environmental regulations and strengthen the Climate Change Act. Our MP has also indicated his support for the independent Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation to cut carbon emissions by 50% of 1990 levels by 2025 and by 80% by 2050. The Government has promised to make these targets legally binding.

Let’s hope the Government will keep its promises and not erode its stated commitment. This is particularly important in the light of the recent report from the International Energy Agency, which shows the CO2 emissions in 2010 were the worst, with a record rise, despite the global recession. It is going to be a massive challenge to keep greenhouse gas emissions under the two degrees rise in temperature target. If emissions are allowed to go over this, there is a real danger climate change will get of control and accelerate with disastrous results.

It is essential the new Energy Bill concentrates on investing in renewable sources of energy now as well as introducing measures to reduce demand, especially on fossil fuels. Nuclear power, which is not carbon neutral as people claim, is not the answer as it is so costly and potentially dangerous. Britain’s nuclear radioactive waste costs are mushrooming all the time, with liabilities rising from £50 billion in the mid 2000s to as much as £80 billion today with no solution to safe storage.

The economic cost should not be borne by the tax payer. The principle of the polluter pays should be invoked. The Coalition Government has made a commitment that the total costs of any new reactors should be met by the private sector alone with no subsidies from the public purse. Clause 102 of the current Energy Bill re public agreements on how much should be spent on nuclear reactors should be amended to ensure any loopholes which might allow future public bailouts for any aspect of the nuclear cycle, including new developments, ecommissioning, accidents, waste management, etc, should be firmly closed.

DAVID PENNEY

Noyna Street, Colne