The Prime Minister must ditch her “baffling” decision to leave the EU’s nuclear agency as it risks derailing the UK’s push to ban petrol and diesel cars, one of Britain’s leading nuclear physicists has warned.
Writing exclusively for The Independent, Professor Martin Freer said quitting Euratom will hit the UK’s nuclear-driven power supply, just as demand for electricity explodes due to a soaring number of battery-powered cars.
The award-winning academic said pulling out of the agency is “short-sighted, counterproductive and dangerous” as he implored the Prime Minister to rethink the move in favour of a “sensible position”.
The position that leaving Euratom could damage plans to electrify Britain’s roads – a flagship green policy announced amid fanfare in July – follows claims that quitting the agency also risks the supply of life-saving cancer treatments.
In his article today, Professor Freer concurs with other experts who say the announcement to ban all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 is set to put a huge strain on the UK’s power grid, with increasing numbers of new electric cars needing charging.
He then writes: “We will need to meet this huge increase in electricity demand with a range of low-carbon technologies: wind-power, solar, tidal, batteries and crucially nuclear power.
“Nuclear has provided about 20 per cent of the UK’s electricity supply for several decades and it has done so reliably and without producing any CO2 emissions.”
The academic, who has won a series of international prizes for his work on nuclear matter, adds: “If we leave Euratom without the necessary arrangements in place, then we will be unable to import the material to power our nuclear power stations.”
The decision to leave Euratom is believed to be largely driven by Ms May’s desire to remove the UK from all areas of jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, which oversees the nuclear agency.
But Professor Freer said leaving “is completely unnecessary and has zero benefits” and claims that there is not a single advocate for doing so beyond “Government lawyers”.
Professor Freer writes: “Leaving Euratom without a viable alternative will only worsen our security of supply position, which is already challenging.
“Rapid role out of electric vehicles over the next decade and beyond will further worsen this situation if we don’t have the policies and investment in place to…