On Monday 22nd March I was invited on Radio Reverb’s “In Brighton Mondays” show to debate political issues with Conservative candidate Charlotte Vere.
I very much enjoy such debates, and the show was no exception. However it raised some interesting issues for the Tories. Firstly Charlotte spoke glowingly of food waste collection and fortnightly waste collection — waste reductions techniques the local Tory council just will not consider no matter what. When challenged on this Charlotte answered that she wasn’t a councillor and wouldn’t get involved in council-level debating. Interesting… I wonder if she and the Pavilion Conservatives see eye-to-eye, does she have the support of Tory councillors in the constituency? I doesn’t seem like it.
But sparks have been flying on another matter. Following from a debate about where wind farms should be sited, we began talking about the challenge of providing sufficient energy over the next 15 years. Charlotte suggested nuclear fusion, which I thought was an extraordinary claim. I sent out a press release highlighting my concerns over this. On Twitter Charlotte pushed back hard demanding a retraction and apology. So I got hold of the show’s recording (thanks to Charlotte & Radio Reverb’s Paul Stones) and had a listen. I’ve copied the transcript I made of the section in question at the end of this post.
Not only do I think it’s clear that Charlotte was strongly advocating nuclear power, including fusion, but that she was proposing non-uranium based reactors. That means either plutonium (which can be used for weapons and is dangerous to store with a half-life of 24,100 years) or the relatively benign Thorium. Given Charlotte kept highlighting how safe new nuclear power is, I imagine she was meaning to refer to Thorium – however there are no working commercial Thorium reactors (there are some which use a Uranium/Thorium mix but that’s an altogether different technology).
It’s a worry that someone who wants to become an MP is advocating betting our energy security on unproven nuclear technologies. There are so many technologies and opportunities for energy efficiency that could meet the challenge, and we have such a long way to go. For example I walked past a large Sainsbury’s on Easter Sunday and saw all the lights on inside despite nobody being there – what did we have to burn to keep those lights going? We can meet the energy challenge by using energy much more carefully and through a mix of renewable energies.