Now that we have been warned our energy prices may rise by up to £200 per year in order to help the nuclear industry build more power stations, we may reflect on the howls of protest about subsidies to renewables.

Because this is a subsidy in all but name ("SNP accuses Coalition of back-door nuclear subsidy", The Herald, May 23).

The principle of subsidy is fine as long as it is justified. Nuclear fuel is finite and exhaustible, renewable energy is infinite and eternal. Nuclear energy produces hugely damaging and dangerous by-products, renewables produce none. Nuclear power encourages the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Renewables encourage a proper understanding of our relationship with the finite world in which we live.

We have long been fed a narrative that renewables are a useful supplement to our energy needs but never a realistic alternative; a wilful misrepresentation of the viability of renewable energy. This has been fostered by a half-hearted approach to the development of renewables and in particular a headlong rush for wind power, at the expense of marine, tidal, solar and geo-thermal energy.

Providing for our energy needs will never be a free lunch but going down the nuclear road will be a hugely expensive mistake.

Trevor Rigg,

15 Greenbank Gardens,


You write that a coherent energy policy needs to do three things which all relate to energy supply ("No sign of a power surge in the draft energy bill", The Herald, May 23). But what about demand?

In January of this year the Association for the Conservation of Energy ( produced a report titled A Corruption of Governance? which shows in detail, using the UK Government's own figures (many of which were difficult to obtain), that reducing demand through improved energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way of helping to meet our future energy needs.

For example, the report reproduces a table from the Government's third 2050 Energy Pathways document (December 2011) which compares the cost of saving energy with that of generating it. The table shows that "maximum effort on demand, no effort on supply" would reduce CO2 emissions to 40% of the 1990 level with an annual cost in 2050 of £277.9 billion.

By contrast, "maximum effort on supply, no effort on demand" would reduce CO2 emissions to only 49% of the 1990 level and would cost 50% more at £421.7bn.

Of course, no-one is suggesting we ignore the supply side; but the contrast is striking.

The report itself is worth reading for the detailed and authoritative way in which it appears to destroy the UK Government's case for nuclear power. As the title suggests, it "shows that the evidence given to Ministers and Parliament, on which they based [their decision to support new nuclear power stations] was a false summary of the analysis carried out within Government".

How could this have come about? I think the clue is in the title.

Colin Weatherley,

8 The Paddock, Gullane.