Until about five years ago I was opposed to the construction of any further nuclear power generating capacity. It wasn't so much Chernobyl, which one of my fellow panellists at the Upper Severn Grassland Society 'Question Time' last night claimed is one of the main reasons he supports on shore wind farms. It was the continuing failure (still the case today) of Government to find an acceptable way of disposing of radioactive waste. But I've changed my mind. There was the transition period when battle raged within my thought processes between logic and instinct - but as always with me, instinct lost out. Not sure whether this is a fault. I'm certainly criticised by some for changing my position on an issue - even if in response to a change in circumstances. As Spock would say, "That's logic Captain". The most glaring example is my wholehearted support for the investing of law making powers in devolved subject areas for the National Assembly for Wales, following the 'Yes' vote in the devolution referendum of 1997. Before the vote, I'd been in the 'No' camp.
But back to nuclear power. As it dawned on me that the refusal of the Blair Government to tackle the issue of future energy demand was creating a dangerous position for Britain in a few years time, I realised that nuclear power had become an inevitability. It was the rumpus over the LNG pipeline from Milford Haven that forced me to confront the issue, when I found myself unable to support objectors who were my constituents at the time. And then there were the utterly pathetic attempts by the Assembly Government to proclaim that wind power could meet future demand. I decided to support nuclear power with some urgency, because I believed Britain would eventually reach a position when all consideration of environmental degradation, and concern about the danger of waste would fly out through the window. As the lights go out, blind panic would step in.
We're not quite there yet, but I did point out to the Grassland Society last night that the Government has already changed the planning process to railroad through its intentions without due consideration of objections and allow planning permission for new nuclear power stations to be given the go ahead. I also said that I believe there is a near-panic urgency in Government now to get them built. And then very conveniently along comes Mr Vladimir Putin, and delivered the most effective boost to the Government's ambitions that its possible to imagine. In my personal opinion, the only responsible energy policy for the UK is commitment to a new generation of nuclear power stations.