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Saturday, August 08, 2015

Shining a light on Britain’s nuclear state

Vanguard class SSBNTwo momentous issues facing David Cameron’s government concern nuclear infrastructure. The new secretary of state for energy, Amber Rudd, recently confirmed her enthusiasm for what is arguably the most expensive infrastructure project in British history: the Hinkley Point C power station. At the same time, a decision is pressing on a similarly eye-watering commitment to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Ostensibly distinct, both of these issues are intensely controversial, extremely expensive, agonisingly protracted, and often accompanied by vicious political rhetoric. Yet commentators rarely ask how these decisions might be connected.

Could such links help to explain the strength of the UK’s nuclear lobby? Britain remains one of only a handful of countries committed to a “nuclear renaissance”, with senior government figures asserting the manifest falsehood that there is “no alternative” to nuclear power. Meanwhile, support for renewables and energy efficiency has been cut.

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