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Barbara Young On nuclear power and the energy mix

'There is no point in being anywhere but on the fence on the nuclear energy issue, ' she says. 'What's important is that the lights stay on, that we get the environmental issues properly handled and that we don't lose out on alternative technologies.' Yet the waste issue cannot be ignored, says Young. 'We still have no long term solution to this and in spite of the fact that everyone is going on about new nuclear being less heavy on waste, the reality is that while it is less volume, in terms of radioactivity it is not much less.' And she has some very real fears about the potential impact on the investment. 'The risk is that if the government gives a strong signal for nuclear the market will say: 'Great. A nice big capital intensive visible thing to build. We understand that'.

'It has already been like rolling rocks uphill to get investment in renewables. The risk is that at the first sign of a nice capital-rich scheme this will all just disappear. Energy policy has really got to incentivise a wide range of technologies, ' says Young.

Energy policy is not, she points out, a straight balance between the environment and the lights going out. There are many other political and economic considerations. But she warns that the UK has not helped itself in many respects.

'We have missed a trick in the new technologies for power generation as we are not the leaders any more, ' she laments. 'For example, we are the windiest nation in the world, yet we don't have a wind energy market.'

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