Britain will next week set out plans for a major policy revamp to secure energy supplies and fight global warming, calling for new nuclear power plants and also giving business and individuals vital roles.
The government will vow to rip up red tape delaying major infrastructure projects like roads, airports and power stations and promote a mix of low carbon technologies and energy sources.
“I am determined that we should not become over-dependent on more and more imported oil and gas,” Trade and Industry Minister Alastair Darling has said.
“I believe that nuclear has to be part of the energy mix along with more renewables, local energy and carbon capture from fossil fuels.”
Environmentalists fear the planning law changes will create havoc. They also reject nuclear power as open to terrorist attack and the waste is toxic for generations.
Darling will on Wednesday present parliament with an Energy White paper setting out policies from major power plants to micro-generation and energy efficiency measures.
“The Energy White Paper will cover the full gamut on energy policy from individual consumer action and choice to big supply side issues,” said one government source.
“It will use all the various levers that are open to government from regulation to information, advice, awareness raising and grants in some circumstances,” the source added.
SEEKS TO CHANGE EU COMPETITION LAWS
The government has agreed a voluntary pact with suppliers to phase out high energy light-bulbs in favor of low energy ones and wants to legislate on product standards, but is prevented from doing so by EU competition laws that it wants to change.
On Monday, Communities and Local Government Minister Ruth Kelly will publish a Planning White Paper to streamline the process that delayed the Sizewell B nuclear plant in eastern England by a decade and is holding up several major wind power projects.
It will include the creation of an Independent Planning Commission to have the final say in all but the most sensitive projects and the principle of “presumption in favor” of major projects as long as they conform to a declared national need.
Such a streamlining of the process would take years off planning applications and clear away one of the major obstacles to private investment in the new nuclear power stations.
Environmentalists fear the planning policy paper will strip away the protection currently provided and lead to a rash of developments from road to retail, airport, power and waste disposal projects including nuclear waste.
They also say the government is deeply misguided in its backing for new nuclear power.
Nuclear plants currently supply about 20 percent of Britain’s electricity, but most, apart from Sizewell B, which will run to 2035, are due to go out of service within a decade.
Environment group WWF said this week a mixture of renewable power sources like wind, water, solar, wave and biomass, coupled with far greater energy efficiency, could satisfy growing electricity demand while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists say emissions of carbon gases from burning fossil fuels for power and transport will boost global temperatures by up to four degrees Celsius this century, causing floods and famines and putting millions of lives at risk.
By Jeremy Lovell
17 May 2007
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