I’m writing this on Friday (29th April), and I’ve just read this BBC article. It’s about the most expensive thing on the planet – and how it’s likely to be the new, yet-to-be-built nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, costing at a minimum £18 billion, and possibly more than £25 billion.
Words cannot express how angry this makes me.
Let me just explain why this makes me angry, though: nuclear energy is not clean energy. It is not sustainable. It is not reliable. And not only this, but when you’re done, you’re left with huge amounts of radioactive waste. Every single item that has been used in the production of nuclear power is contaminated, and has to be abandoned. Clothes, trucks, everything. The world is not a toy, and nor are nuclear power plants.
And let’s not forget, there’s that small matter of the ominous threat of another Chernobyl incident.
People can give their arguments for nuclear power, okay – it does emit less in the way of greenhouse gases than fossil fuels, and is efficient at producing energy, but those are really its only positives.
Thinking about that £25 billion, though: there is something FAR BETTER that this money should be spent on – something the government has been aware of as a possibility for YEARS, and yet people always complained would be ‘too much money’: the Severn Barrage.
If you don’t know what this is, allow me to enlighten you: the Severn Barrage is a proposed tidal plant at the Severn Estuary in Somerset, UK. Tidal power is 100% renewable, it never runs out, and guess what? It’s completely predictable and reliable. We are an island. Tidal times have been predicted for years on end now, and this single barrage would be capable of providing 5% of the entire country’s energy – 5% may sound small, but there are 15 active nuclear plants in the UK now, which together produce only 18.5% of the UK’s energy. That’s only 1.2% each.
Building the Severn Barrage would be so much better for the UK. Its peak energy times would be in the afternoon (the time of most energy demand in a day) and it would increase in winter with stronger tides – the time of year when energy is needed most, because of things like central heating.
I first heard about the Hinkley Plant and the Severn Barrage late 2014/early 2015 for my AS geography, but reading up about the costs of this new nuclear plant just brought back all my anger about it. Some estimates of the cost of building the Severn Barrage are at around £25 billion – the exact same as this nuclear plant. If you take a moment to sit and weigh the positives and negatives of each, there is quite literally no justification for building the nuclear plant over the Severn Barrage.
Let’s just see – Pros:
Nuclear: Provides a fair amount of energy.
Severn Estuary: Would provide 5% of the UK’s energy – completely renewable, no emissions, best thing for the planet, reliable, consists with times of peak demand.
Nuclear: Unreliable. Unsustainable. Possibility of Chernobyl repeat. Still emits greenhouse gases. Produces huge amounts of toxic waste which needs to be safely stored for thousands of years.
Severn Estuary: Nope. There are none. Well, unless you count cost – but then, the people building the nuclear plant don’t seem to, so I won’t either.