French lesson

1 min read

Building new electricity generating capacity in the UK (The Engineer, passim) will take forever — build it in France.

This country, with its coterie of protest groups and specialist lawyers, has a well-practised ability to stall major infrastructure developments.

A perfect example is T5. It took 15 years to get planning permission to build it — and it will possibly take another 15 to forget its opening.

Despite government warnings that resistance to new power generation projects will not be tolerated, the spectre of judicial reviews and protestors is still out there — ensuring the UK stays a green and pleasant land, if a little dark and cold in the winter.

The Treasury doesn't help either, tending to keep its hands in its pockets hoping the private sector will come forward with funding.

Nuclear is the way forward. We can't rely on gas when Russia has its hands on the tap at the other end of the pipe. Coal is anti-Kyoto and renewables are fine — when the wind blows, the sun shines and the subsidies flow.

France has a well-established nuclear industry which the population is happy with, so building a string of power stations on the north French coast could be accomplished in years rather than decades.

As the country owns more of our generating infrastructure, planning applications will be made by French companies to a French government — which I believe enjoy a close relationship.

France's economy would welcome the boost and the UK would be able to go nuclear.

Martin Francis

Porthmadog, North Wales