Consultation in Norwich on nuclear option

SHAUN LOWTHORPE A controversial government consultation about the future of nuclear power, took place in Norfolk at the weekend - part of a nationwide attempt to gauge the public's views on the issue.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

A controversial government consultation about the future of nuclear power, took place in Norfolk at the weekend - part of a nationwide attempt to gauge the public's views on the issue.

Ministers have already indicated that renewing the country's nuclear programme would be in the public interest and help cut carbon emissions and provide secure energy supplies.

But environmental campaig-ners such as Greenpeace are boycotting the consultation exercise, which they insist is flawed and window dressing to disguise the fact the government has already made up its mind.


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It is the second time the government has had to consult on the issue following a High Court judgment earlier this year which ruled that the government's stance in favour of nuclear was unlawful and that previous consultations were “seriously flawed”.

On Saturday more than 70 people from across the county, selected via the electoral roll to form a representative sample, took part in an all-day session in Norwich spelling out the case for and against nuclear energy

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The city is one of nine across the country where the exercise is being held.

Participants were provided with information to help them understand further the issues involved and spent the day debating issues such as safety, security, waste management and the energy mix.

Special 'facilitators' were on hand to capture their views and ask them a series of polling questions using electronic handsets.

The results will be fed back into the consultation and published this week.

Pamela Parsonson, 70, from Briston, near Holt, said she had been impressed by the thoroughness of the event, but was concerned the sessions had not put over the full picture about the viability of renewable energy.

“I thought the government wanted to show it was consulting, but it's mind was made up, but I am not sure I'm right about that now,” she said. “I am in favour of nuclear power but I feel it is important that research goes into renewable resources as nuclear itself is only going to be a temporary solution because in 60 years' time we will have to look again.”

Nick Crook, 44, from Norwich, said he had prev-iously supported nuclear energy, but was less keen after learning more during the sessions.

“The government are trying to push it as a renewable, but it's not, and we are also going to have to get it from abroad,” he said. “I still agree with it, but not as much - the rods are not, renewable and there is no way of recycling the waste.”

Kylie Elfleet, 26, from King's Lynn, said she had opposed nuclear power, but was now a convert. “When I came here I was against it,” she said. “But I now I think we should have the option.”

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