Cabinet re-opens nuclear debate
16 February 2005, AMSTERDAM — In what is amounting to a political about-face, the Dutch Cabinet wants to keep the Borssele nuclear reactor open beyond its scheduled closure of 2013 and is keen to discuss "clean" nuclear energy.
16 February 2005
AMSTERDAM — In what is amounting to a political about-face, the Dutch Cabinet wants to keep the Borssele nuclear reactor open beyond its scheduled closure of 2013 and is keen to discuss "clean" nuclear energy.
But Democrat D66, the smallest of the three coalition parties, is opposed to the new pro-nuclear energy stance, forcing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, a Christian Democrat, to intervene on Tuesday to avoid a conflict.
Balkenende met with the ministers involved and outlined the government's official position: the cabinet will stick to the coalition accord stipulating that Borssele will close in 2013. But the discussion about nuclear fuel is now open.
The left-wing opposition parties, Labour PvdA, Socialist SP and green-left GroenLinks, are demanding an emergency debate in the Dutch Parliament next week, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Wednesday.
The demand comes after Environment State Secretary Pieter van Geel unexpectedly proposed on Tuesday keeping the Borssele plant — the Netherlands' last remaining nuclear power station — open longer than planned, provided that the coalition parties in the Lower House of Parliament approved.
Van Geel said the hundreds of millions of euros needed to shut the Borssele plant could be better used to stimulate the production of sustainable energy.
The Christian Democrat CDA minister also backed party colleague and Foreign Minister Ben Bot, who'd said on Monday the Netherlands needed to keep open the possibility of clean nuclear energy. Bot is concerned about the growing dependence on "fickle" foreign energy sources and fears that wind and solar energy will not meet the nation's future energy needs.
Van Geel also said due to air pollution and climate change, the discussion about nuclear energy should be conducted "without dogma".
His comments were greeted with applause by D66 Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, whose portfolio includes energy policy. Brinkhorst — in contrast to his party's MPs — said he shared Bot's "excellent analysis" and he praised the "wise words" of Van Geel.
"The increasing use of energy, especially in Asia, and the environmental effects means that we must consider every option again," Brinkhorst said, adding that greater emphasis should also be placed on energy savings.
The deciding factor will be the reactions of coalition parties in the Lower House. But the Liberal VVD has long been in favour of keeping Borssele open, while the CDA is keen to study the pros and cons with an open mind.
Only the D66 wishes to stick to the agreement in the government accord and close Borssele in 2013 as planned. "We have talked about Borssele for a long time and a decision has been made. Everyone agrees that nuclear energy has no future," D66 MP Boris van der Ham said.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news