Secret Subsidies

I am pleased that environmentalists have complained to the European Commission that the United Kingdom is in effect secretly subsidising nuclear energy. The complainants argue (in my view rightly) that laws that cap liability for nuclear accidents or do not require the nuclear energy producers to clean up after they have made their money from nuclear electricity and a host of other subsidies are contrary to the EU laws which require these subsidies to have been granted state approval before they are implemented.

Every renewable energy subsidy (which is usually in a direct cash grant) requires state approval. Rules that save the nuclear energy industry the cost of insurance or having to maintain (rather than distribute) cash reserves for future clean up operations are in essence as much as a subsidy as a direct cash grant. A pound saved has the same value as a pound earned. The real difference between the subsidies is that those affected the nuclear energy industry are far more valuable in monetary terms than any money the government dishes out for renewable.

While the environmentalists have got their ducks in a row on the nuclear industry why not look at the indirect subsidies for the fossil fuel industries? Those that burn create dust and particulates and damage air quality that costs the nation in health and other costs as a result of illness caused. At the moment the costs of fixing poor health falls on the nation, not the energy user. It might we worth considering another complaint to the Commission.

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