Sixty-five of the world’s leading biologists are demanding the “historical antagonism” towards nuclear power from the green lobby end. In an open letter, the group is expected to claim it is too risky to replace fossil fuels with wind turbines and are calling for nuclear to be in the “energy mix” as it is the greenest technology of all.
They have concluded that of all the major ‘green’ energy sources, nuclear provides the best cost-benefit ratio. But it has long been opposed by green campaigners, who believe technologies like wind and wave power can meet western energy needs whilst cutting emissions.
The biologists point out that technologies like wind turbines have a far larger footprint than nuclear, pushing out wildlife. They believe the space freed up by nuclear energy could be used to promote biodiversity. “It is time that conservationists make their voices heard in this policy area,” says the open letter.
Although the full text of the letter is not available until it is published in next month’s Conservation Biology journal, some extracts have been published in the Independent.
One section reads: “Much as leading climate scientists have recently advocated the development of safe, next-generation nuclear energy systems to combat climate change, we entreat the conservation and environmental community to weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources using objective evidence and pragmatic trade-offs, rather than simply relying on idealistic perceptions of what is ‘green’.”
It continues: “Trade-offs and compromises are inevitable and require advocating energy mixes that minimise net environmental damage. Society cannot afford to risk wholesale failure to address energy-related biodiversity impacts because of preconceived notions and ideals.”
The letter is being organised by Professor Barry Brook of the University of Tasmania, who has already co-authored a paper looking at how nuclear could be used to protect the environment. The group also includes the former government chief scientific adviser, Lord May of Oxford.
Another signatory, Professor Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide, said: “Many so-called green organisations and individuals, including scientists, have avoided or actively lobbied against proven zero-emissions technologies like nuclear because of the associated negative stigma.”
He continued: “Our main goal was to show – through careful, objective scientific analysis – that on the basis of cost, safety, emissions reduction, land use and pollution, nuclear power must be considered in the future energy mix.”
David Morris MP, Chairman of Conservative Friends of Nuclear Energy, welcomed the letter: “These scientists are right, nuclear has no emissions and is plainly the greenest energy source of them all.
“Heysham Nuclear Power Station in my constituency is surrounded by a wide variety of small animals and wild plant life. Filling the country with expensive, inefficient and ugly wind turbines represents a real threat to rural areas.
“I hope everyone will take note of what these experts are saying.”