Thursday, May 24, 2007

What A Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday in a letter to the Scotsman Jim Mather, the Minister for Enterprise, Energy & Tourism said. "Let me make it clear that there is no confusion over the new Scottish government's energy policy. Ministers have specifically and consistently stated that nuclear power is neither needed nor wanted in Scotland. It would be difficult to be any clearer than that. We were elected on that pledge and we will stick to it."

Sometime later yesterday he said that the Executive would not intervene if British Energy chose to extend the life-cycles of the Scottish plants and would leave the decision with the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, a division of the Health and Safety Executive.

"The plain facts of life are that it would be for energy companies and the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to decide whether to extend the life of current nuclear-generating stations. The simple fact is that this is not a decision for ministers."

Welcome to the real world....

6 comments:

james higham said...

There was a nice quote by Leo Amery about Asquith and the "season-ticket on the line of least resistance". That seems appropriate here.

Richard Havers said...

Brilliant quote James. I can see myself using that!

Richard Thomson said...

But where's the contradiction, Richard? As I recall, the pledge was no new nuclear stations; not to close the existing ones down before the end of their life cycle, extended or otherwise.

The only competence the Scottish Executive has in relation to nuclear power is whether or not to grant planning permission for new stations. It has no powers over the ones already in place. Everything Jim Mather has said is entirely consistent with both the SNP manifesto and the vires of the Scotland Act.

Richard Havers said...

Come, come, Richard. He quite specifically says it's not needed for one. It's all part of the art and language of politics and it's what irritates ordinary people about the whole process. If his letter had said we'll probably need to extend the life of at least one nuclear power station then I'd buy your argument.

Richard Thomson said...

And nuclear isn't needed in Scotland in the longer term, providing we develop suitable alternatives using the lead-in time available to us. It's stretching things well beyond breaking point to claim that just because someone oppposes nuclear power, that they therefore want to shut everything down overnight.

To recap, here's the story which prompted Jim Mather's letter:

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=792362007

"The SNP is committed to using devolved planning powers to block any new nuclear stations in Scotland, hoping that renewable sources like wind and wave power will be able to make up the shortfall".

And in the same story:

"The life extension of nuclear power stations is a matter for the station operator," an Executive spokesman said".

Couldn't be clearer. But on the basis that they couldn't get a quote from Jim Mather for whatever reason, the Scotsman decided that there was 'confusion'.

No contradiction there, and no playing with words either, at least from Jim Mather...

Richard Havers said...

Just back from Dublin Richard, so I've been a bit slow to respond.

You said "And nuclear isn't needed in Scotland in the longer term, providing we develop suitable alternatives using the lead-in time available to us. It's stretching things well beyond breaking point to claim that just because someone opposes nuclear power, that they therefore want to shut everything down overnight."

My point was very clear, in that Jim Mather was disingenuous in his letter, either that or the Scotsman edited his letter badly. The point of the matter is that politicians should be careful how they chose their words. What they say and what they mean should not be two different things.