Nuclear rebuild: How the Different Newspapers Stack Up

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An overview of the media's position in 2005-06 on whether the Labour government should give the go-ahead to a new generation of nuclear power stations.

  • For

The Times - Argues that "nuclear energy is necessary to bridge Britain's energy gap" [1]

The Daily Telegraph - Argues that "Nuclear must be part of Britain's energy mix". For too long, argues the Telegraph "Labour has been paralysed by an irrational fear of civil nuclear power ... Compared with fossil fuels, nuclear power offers clean energy whose provision is not over-dependent on volatile foreign suppliers. Compared with renewables, it has a proven record of substantial electricity production." [The Daily Telegraph (2005) Nuclear Must be Part of Britain's Energy Mix, 30 November, p21]

The Sun - Is in favour of a new generation of nuclear power stations, arguing that "doing nothing is not an option" because "the nation faces a long-term energy crisis and we have been dithering too long." [2]

  • Against

The Independent - Argues that the "wrong decision has already been made". The paper argues that the government's threee month consultation "is simply the final stage of a public relations exercise designed to prepare the ground for a Prime Ministerial volte face on nuclear energy. It is a classic New Labour spin operation". [3]

  • Hedging their bets

The Guardian - Argues that the "public has good reason to be very sceptical about the claim that there is no alternative to a massive increase in nuclear power station construction if our targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are to be met. In addition to the usual objections to nuclear power - that it has proved far more expensive and less safe than proponents promised - there is a new one, that they will be a prime target for terrorists ...Nevertheless we cannot dismiss the new claim - that however un safe or expensive the nuclear option seems to be, the risks are far less than the alternative of allowing greenhouse gases to erode the viability of the planet itself. When environmentalists such as the Guardian's columnist George Monbiot - hardly Tony Blair's spin doctor - do the sums and find that "renewable" energies cannot save the world on present evidence without consideration of nuclear, it may be time to start examining some prejudices". [4]

The Mirror - After Blair's announcement in November 2005, the Scottish edition of the paper argued: "Britain is heading fast into an energy crisis, yet the debate on what direction we should take has already been delayed far too long. There are a number of options but none of them comes without problems.Gas is running out. Coal and oil cause global warming. And with nuclear energy there is the difficulty of disposing of spent fuel ...There cannot be a meaningful debate about energy policy which does not include the nuclear option. Which is why Tony Blair has had to raise it. If new reactors are built they would bring concerns about safety and the very real problem of disposing of spent fuel. But including nuclear in a future energy policy could still be the best choice for the Britain of the future". [The Mirror (2005)"Stay Open on Energy", 30 November, p6, Scottish edition]