Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor calls for more nuclear power plants

Professor David King, the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, has stated that the UK needs to revive its nuclear power station building programme if it is to reach targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reports the BBC.

The Professor, who, only a couple of weeks ago, was the environmentalists’ darling for his announcement that the UK should ban the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered cars (see related story), has now enraged them with this new statement.

The announcement – by someone who has, until now, been a nuclear power sceptic – came during a speech at the Albert Hall to launch National Science Week. In the past, King has been concerned about the disposal and storage of radioactive waste.

Following a detailed review, he has concluded that the contribution from renewable energy sources should be boosted to provide 20% of the UK’s electricity by 2020. However, because the contribution from the UK’s aging nuclear power plants will decline from the current 27% to less than 4%, renewable energy sources on their own will not provide enough power to make a dent in the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels, says King.

“Dependence on fossil fuels would be unchanged unless there is new nuclear build at least to replace existing nuclear power stations,” he told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme. Nevertheless, there needs to be more advanced research into treating and disposing of nuclear waste, he said.

“Those who are opposed to nuclear power on environmental grounds have to weigh up this difficult balance,” he said. “Are we going to continue with global warming or are we going to mitigate it?”

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