The Liberal Democratic party, the UK’s second tier political opposition, has opposed any moves towards the construction of a new generation of nuclear plants, pointing to massive cleanup costs estimated at £56 billion ($96 billion) for existing waste.

Liberal Democrat shadow environment secretary Norman Baker said: “The nuclear industry has been incapable of cleaning up after itself. What it has simply done is to accumulate waste and hope that some solution will arrive,” warning that it would be irresponsible to suggest increasing nuclear generation without solutions for the waste. Baker’s comments follow a statement in late December 2005 in which he said: “Nuclear power is a lame duck, a white elephant and a red herring. A commitment by the government to building a new generation of nuclear power stations would be financially reckless, environmentally disastrous and, given the current security situation, gravely irresponsible.”

Some members of parliament from Tony Blair’s ruling Labour party have said they will insist on a vote on nuclear power, should the government position move to support new build. In such a situation Liberal MPs would be expected to vote against, but the main opposition party, the Conservative party, has traditionally been more pragmatic on industrial issues. Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative spokesman on energy has criticised the government’s “benign neglect” and lack of coordinated responses to emerging energy issues. “Energy policy is not a political question,” he told a November 2005 London meeting on nuclear power and energy policy.

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