Renewables are the best hope for the local economy, Cllr John Whitelegg explained to a thoughtful audience last night at the Heysham Anti-Nuclear Alliance (HANA) public meeting to discuss the government's proposals for a new wave of nuclear power stations, which include building a third reactor at Heysham.
Cllr Whitelegg outlined the possibilities of renewable schemes that could locally generate power without devolving the heavy burden of stewarding our toxic waste onto generations yet unborn. In fact, he believes passionately that the best chance for the local economy to grow is by expanding into renewable energy generation. The local area is particularly well resourced for renewable developments and the work is well suited to apprenticeships and adult training.
A nuclear power station, however, would require a largely specialist workforce to construct and maintain which, as when the previous reactors were built, would be imported from outside the area and leave when their work was done. Plans for storage of existing 'legacy' radioactive waste were still being debated, with very long-term secure refrigerated burial of hi-grade waste being favoured by government as the sole safe option. Plans and costs for storage of nuclear material planned for production in the future were not clear.
All the installations would require sophisticated protection and security from terrorist attack or theft of nuclear material.
Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility, Dr Noel Cass of Lancaster University Environment Centre and Maurice Pennance from the Heysham Anti-Nuclear Alliance spoke and took questions and contributions from the audience about current proposals for meeting the UK's future energy needs, the DECC consultation process and how the HANA campaign was meeting these challenges.
Earlier in the day, the Group had joined forces with CND on a stall in Lancaster Market Square commemorating the anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which took place on 26 April 1986. The evacuation of the adjacent city of Pripyat began at 2pm on 27 April.
To reduce baggage, the residents were told the evacuation would be temporary, lasting approximately three days. As a result, Pripyat still contains personal belongings. An exclusion zone of 30 km (19 mi) remains in place today.