I’ve been to Fukushima – Plaid Cymru needs to revisit its untenable position on nuclear power
I’ve just returned from Japan as part of a joint Friends of the Earth Japan/PAWB (People Against Wylfa B) campaign against nuclear.
I saw the ongoing nightmare that is Fukushima – deserted towns, farmland laid to waste, human tragedies.
A similar disaster at Wylfa would be the end of any hope of a viable Wales – but politicians here discount any such possibility.
PAWB will host a visit from Fukushima evacuees in July – so people here can learn what damage nuclear can do.
So as an opponent of Wylfa B who happens to be a Leanne Wood supporter, I welcome her unambiguous anti-nuclear statement.
The untenable position of Plaid on nuclear is to be revisited. After the Westminster announcement that “austerity” and privatisation apparently doesn’t apply to nuclear power at Wylfa, Plaid’s ignoring of the subject in the hope that it would go away is no longer acceptable.
A policy of “no nuclear in Wales except where it’s been already” is no policy at all. That was Ieuan Wyn Jones’ legacy.
The whole Wylfa project represents all that would be at odds with Leanne’s hopes for Wales:
- A dependency culture reliant on economic imperialism.
- Risk from radioactive waste on site for over a century.
- Environmental degradation of hundreds of acres in a spectacularly beautiful area.
- Massive pressures on our language and culture.
- An economic millstone for an independent Wales.
- Diversion of resources away from renewables.
- And crucially, a classic case of Westminster imposing its will on Wales – we take the risk and the profit flows outwards.
And barely a whimper of protest from elected politicians – till now.
Leanne’s leadership has been undermined from the beginning by the pro-nuclear faction within Plaid.
The silence of elected members who are anti-nuclear has stifled her ability to provide strong leadership on the matter. The support for a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) at Trawsfynydd provides another example.
So those who complain about lack of direction and leadership should look at themselves first – and ask how much of the leader’s energy has been diverted to attempting to avoid a counterproductive civil war within the party?
Is this why we’ve heard nothing since its publication on 3rd October 2013 about the excellent document: “An Energy Policy for Wales – Understanding the Challenges – a discussion paper commissioned by Leanne Wood AM and the Plaid Cymru Assembly Group”?
The author Madoc Batcup concludes: “Wylfa would be a very large project for a country the size of Wales, and will not create many long-term jobs in comparison with the huge amount of capital expenditure.
“It would represent a huge risk for a future Welsh Government, and potential or perceived liabilities on this project alone could jeopardise the financial standing of any future Welsh Government”.
Even the most rabid supporters of nuclear cannot really believe that a project which needs massive investments from the UK and Japanese Governments is all about creating jobs on Ynys Môn!
Rhun ap Iorwerth is touted as a possible leader of Plaid. Can a credible candidate still support a project requiring billions of public money when austerity has been imposed on us?
There is no indication in his Nation Cymru article on 4th June that he no longer backs Wylfa B. It is plainly illogical to state that he has to be pro-Wylfa B, as the alternative is to say to people “I’ll do what I can to stop you getting those jobs”.
He says that it isn’t a matter of “take your pick” between nuclear and renewable jobs – well why not? Scotland seems to manage! And maybe if Wales had followed Scotland in being vocal in opposing nuclear we wouldn’t be where we are now.
If Rhun has always been sceptical of the economics of nuclear then he must have realised that mind boggling public investment would be needed to salvage the project.
There is apparently no money for our rural schools on Ynys Môn or for youth clubs in Gwynedd. We are now in the absurd position where Plaid led Councils are delivering the Westminster Tory austerity agenda!
Indeed the Wylfa project has led to a Local Development Plan, enthusiastically adopted by Plaid councils on Ynys Mon and in Gwynedd, which are based on support for the project. Concerns about the Welsh language and excessive numbers of houses have been largely ignored.
This is in direct contrast to Leanne’s vision of empowering communities. And definitely not why she got into politics.
It is no surprise that Leanne has made this a key issue. It isn’t just about nuclear – it’s about the attitudes needed within Plaid to give us a vibrant, prosperous, caring, socialist, green Wales which isn’t beholden to the destructive agenda of Westminster and multinationals.
It’s about saying that we own the whole loaf, and won’t be fobbed off with crumbs. It’s about empowering people – and about the future of many generations yet unborn.