Letters: We should not fall for nuclear spin. Let's look to fulfil our green energy potential

·5-min read
A computer-generated image of how a nuclear fusion plant could look. Picture: UK Atomic Energy Authority
A computer-generated image of how a nuclear fusion plant could look. Picture: UK Atomic Energy Authority

ACCORDING to Professor Declan Diver, nuclear fusion could help achieve our net zero goal; he glows with radioactive enthusiasm for a prototype nuclear fusion reactor on the Ardeer peninsula ("How fusion power could help achieve net zero goal", Agenda, The Herald, July 4).

Prof Diver is the convenor of the consortium behind that project and his article is part of the nuclear industry’s charm offensive which many local politicians have fallen for, like gullible schoolkids eyeing up the big shiny nuclear toy offering "clean" and "green" nuclear energy. They have also fallen for the sales pitch of "thousands of clean jobs", all designed to persuade the public to continue funding the nuclear industry with billions, as no private investor is willing to take that risk.

The reality is that in spite of vast sums having been spent trying to develop nuclear fusion over many decades, it has only ever worked for seconds in test labs, but even in the unlikely event that it would ever work, it is neither green nor clean.

In addition, the carbon footprint of development and construction over many decades of such a site would be huge, never mind the incalculable costs of dealing with radioactive waste.

In fact one of the recent "experts" who spoke to North Ayrshire Council could not confirm that there would be no waste from such a plant, only that there would be "less waste" – that is, less waste than conventional nuclear fission, not exactly a reassuring admission.

The reality is there is still no satisfactory or acceptable way of dealing with nuclear waste, regardless of how it is generated, while any nuclear plant takes about a century to decommission and its reactor core has to be covered in thousands of tons of concrete and guarded for thousands of years.

When the full cost of all this is included, nuclear is the most expensive and the most dangerous form of energy ever devised. It is also the most subsidised industry that has ever existed, while support for green energy is but a drop in the ocean by comparison.

Dr Daniel Jassby, who worked for 25 years on plasma physics and neutron production related to fusion energy at Princeton University, has recently written about the myriad problems with nuclear fusion, showing why it won’t work as "fusion reactors are not what they are cracked up to be". He concluded that "when you consider we get solar and wind energy for free, to rely on fusion reaction would be foolish".

Indeed, when we are blessed with such an abundance of green sources in Scotland, it just makes no economic or environmental sense whatsoever to continue with nuclear generation of any kind

Rather than falling for all this nuclear spin, we really should be promoting the green energy potential of Ardeer, something that would bring far more secure and safer employment long term for the people of North Ayrshire, rather than gambling on the risks from an experimental nuclear piped ream.

John Hodgart, Ardrossan.

PUTTING YOUR FOOT IN IT

I NOTE with interest Helen McArdle's article concerning Glasgow Royal Infirmary ("Glasgow’s oldest hospital makes history with heritage museum", The Herald, July 4).

Prior to professional training, I spent two years as a social work assistant in GRI (1978 to 1980). While it achieved many firsts in clinical practice and advancements in "electricity in medicine", which are well attested, I was told that the Almoner's Department was the forerunner of the first social work department in a Scottish hospital.

When I saw patients on the wards, I was surprised at the number of elderly patients who still asked "are ye the Lady Almoner Hen?" One old chap prided himself on being more up to date and said I was "wan oh thae socialist workers".

There was also a long-established Dorcas Society and a Dorcas Room which housed donations of clothing and footwear given by staff for patients who had no clothes or shoes at the point of discharge. One of my tasks was to find suitable footwear and attire for that purpose. One poor soul, a homeless man, was provided with footwear and clothing for discharge. Unfortunately, the only pair of footwear which would fit were platform ankle boots (no doubt once sported by a trendy junior registrar). Two hours after discharge, the unfortunate individual was readmitted, sporting a broken ankle. It was at this point I learned that due to this fashion, the number of admissions to A&E had rocketed. I am pleased to say "it wisnae me" who gave the footwear to the patient, being on another ward at the time.

Ann Ross-McCall, Glasgow.

LOVE/HATE THY NEIGHBOUR

THE cordial co-existence which Peter Dryburgh (Letters, July 1) thinks exists between Norway and Sweden is questioned by Robin Johnston (Letters, July 5). On a tour in Norway a few years ago, our Norwegian guide informed us that Sweden has one thing that Norway does not. The answer: nice neighbours.

The above joke by our Norwegian guide was greeted with much laughter by our friendly English companions who vastly outnumbered the few Scots present who, of course, joined in with wry smiles. Perhaps this answers Mr Johnston’s query if certain types of joke are universal?

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.

PARTY LINES

THELMA Edwards (Letters, July 5) has a list of things she is tired of hearing.

Perhaps the MPs and MSPs of whom Mrs Edwards rightly complains are simply "following best practice" and if from the same political party, ensuring that they are "singing from the same hymn sheet". They may be trying to say something "ground- breaking". They certainly seem unable to "hit the ground running". Perhaps they really are trying to make a "meaningful contribution", at the same time as "getting their ducks in a row".

"Going forward," it's a "no-brainer."

I hope to have added to Mrs Edwards' lexicon.

David Miller, Milngavie.

UNSPEAKABLE PRIVILEGE

IAN W Thomson (Letters, July 5) suggests that a Scottish title for any future royal might include Kirkintilloch, as it "would trip off the tongue". Why make it easy for them? How about Milngavie?

Malcolm Allan, Bishopbriggs.

BUDDING FINANCIER

ANENT the recent recollections of Bud Neill’s Mrs Thomson (Letters, July 1, 4 & 5), my favourite cartoon was of the three wee Glesca wifies standing on the corner bummin’ and one quips: “Mrs Thomson said that the Dow Jones Index wis doon again, didn’t ye Mrs Thomson?”

John Moreland, Killearn.

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