Manchester Diary - day two
Another early start, though not quite as early as yesterday morning: up in time to make the half-hour trek from my hotel to the conference for a very interesting Nuclear Industry Association fringe meeting at 8 am.
The discussion centred around the nuclear industry in the community: obviously an issue very dear to the heart of people in Cumbria, particularly West Cumbria, where as one speaker rightly pointed out, the local economy would be unrecognisable without the investment brought by the nuclear industry into the area.
Sellafield has now managed to raise the proportion of their supply chain spending going into the local community to 30% which is extremely good for this kind of industry, though they would like to do even better. The point was mentioned that to achieve an even better proportion will need effective co-operation with local authorities and all parties concerned need to think carefully about what they can do to help bring this about.
There was also a reminder of one other point which I had intended to mention from yesterday: Energy minister Charles Hendry pointed out in his speech at conference that Nuclear Power is the lowest-cost form of low-carbon energy. So if we wnat to meet our carbon targest and keep costs down nuclear has to be part of the mix.
It was also pointed out that Germany are going to get themselves in a real fix if they try to persist in doing without nuclear energy while trying to meet their carbon targets: this policy has already driven up the cost of energy in Europe, and forced them to import electricity from France.
Which effectively means that Germany is still using nuclear energy, but with the plants based in France rather than Germany - and with a lower energy efficiency and more impact on the enviroment due to transmission losses.
Tuesday morning's conference sessions are on welfare reform and jobs followed by the Economy. The people organising the conference are aiming, on the basis of a lead which comes from David Cameron downwards, to talk to the country rather than ourselves and address the issues which matter to the public like jobs, the economy, health services, and schools.