Earlier this week I was invited to a meeting of the Birmingham Policy Commission – an initiative set up by the University of Birmingham to examine the arguments for and against nuclear power as a future energy generating technology.
There was a lot of discussion about public opinion and nuclear power – including a presentation on some fascinating research conducted at Cardiff University about public perceptions of risk and nuclear power. But to my mind we need to go a lot further than basing decisions on future energy needs around whether the public will support them or not. Because of their complexity, the nature of the risks involved, and their long-term implications, decisions on nuclear issues need to be grounded in a sound ethical framework. The first Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) did some ground-breaking work in this respect and a robust ethical analysis was a key feature of its report recommending waste management options to the government in 2006, but we seem to have forgotten CoRWM's wise words on the importance of an ethical approach in the rush for nuclear new build.
You can download my presentation to the Commission below, which a number of colleagues present were kind enough to say they found provocative!