Shepway District councillors recently expressed an interest in the possibility of having a nuclear waste site in the Romney Marsh. They were responding to concern at the loss of vital local jobs as result of the closure of the Dungeness power stations.
Two other Councils, both close to Sellafield in West Cumbria, have expressed a similar interest. However, it has been widely leaked that Cumbria County Council will block any plans for a dump when they meet on 11th of October.
Even the most die-hard supporter of nuclear power must surely accept that without a proper plan for the burying of intermediate and high level waste, we cannot build more nuclear power stations in this country. But the UK government is under intense pressure to support new nuclear. Two companies in particular, EDF and Areva, have been lobbying the UK government. Both these companies have developed their nuclear technology with massive financial support from the French tax payer.
Despite this very significant investment of public funds France remains largely dependent on fossil fuels with nuclear accounting for only about a quarter of its total energy use. Energy analysts have shown that France could meet all its energy needs and its carbon reduction targets without any nuclear by 2050. The growing public concern in France over nuclear safety has now forced the French government to bring forward the closure of some of the older reactors.
We are living in an age of rapidly advancing technology which is transforming the way we think about generating, using and storing energy.
These emerging technologies promise secure long-term jobs. Perhaps the way forward would be a joint Anglo-French initiative to harness some of the energy in the sweeping tides of the English Channel/ la Manche instead?