The Politics of Fading Dreams: Britain and the Nuclear Export Business

  • Robert Boardman
  • Malcolm Grieve

Abstract

Britain’s nuclear programme has not on the whole enjoyed a good press. A world leader in the field in the 1950s, the country was struck early in the game by a sense of malaise that it has proved impossible to eradicate. Older criticisms of poor industrial and governmental organisation, of failure in the world’s export markets, and of errors of judgement in reactor choice were joined in the 1970s by the charge that in a crowded island the nuclear option was not a safe energy strategy. A former leading member of the Friends of the Earth (FOE), a group which took the key role in fighting plans for the Windscale reprocessing facility, has spoken of “the nuclear industry’s track record of over-optimism and misjudgment”,1 while The Times, from a somewhat different angle, has commented (in 1981) that “the history of the development of nuclear power in Britain over the past decade and a half has been a sorry tale of wrong decisions, missed opportunities and wasted money”.2 The author of a recent study sees the nuclear power question as part of a wider phenomenon: “Britain has settled for handling too many twentieth-century problems with nineteenth-century political and administrative attitudes and machinery, and this is one of the major reasons for her continuing decline”.3

Keywords

Europe Steam Transportation Uranium Income 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Walter Patterson, The Times, 23 Oct. 1980.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Roger Williams, The Nuclear Power Decisions: British Policies,1953–78 ( London: Croom-Helm, 1980 ) p. 13.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    N. T. Marsham and R. S. Pease, “Nuclear Power in the Future”, Atom, 196 (Feb. 1973) pp. 46–62.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Margaret Gowing, in the New Scientist, 19 June 1980, p. 329.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    The major study dealing with this background is Margaret Gowing, Britain and Atomic Energy,1939–1945 (London: Macmillan, 1964).Google Scholar
  6. Other works dealing with nuclear power issues in Britain include Duncan Burn, The Political Economy of Nuclear Energy ( London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1967 );Google Scholar
  7. Henry R. Nau, National Politics and International Technology: Nuclear Reactor Development in Western Europe ( Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974 );Google Scholar
  8. E. F. Wonder, “Decision-making and the Reorganisation of the British Nuclear Power Industry,” Research Policy, 5 (1976) pp. 240–68;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Peter DeLeon, “Comparative Technology and Public Policy: The Development of the Nuclear Power Reactor in Six Nations”, Policy Sciences, 11 (1980) pp. 285–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Varley, at House of Commons Debates, 872 (2 May 1974) cols 1356–8. See also ibid., 876 (10 July 1974) col. 1367; and 883 (20 Dec. 1974) col. 2032.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    R. McKeague, “The Suitability of the SGHWR for the Power Requirements of Developing Countries,” Atom, 215 (Sept. 1974) pp. 200–14.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Benn, at House of Commons Debates, 926 (21 Feb. 1977) cols 1011–13; and ibid., 925 (8 Feb. 1977) col. 1266.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    David Fishlock, “Full Steam Ahead for the ‘British PWR’ ”, Financial Times 13 Dec. 1979.Google Scholar
  14. 19.
    D. E. H. Peirson, “Twenty Years On”, Atom, 255 (July 1975) pp. 103–4.Google Scholar
  15. 28.
    E. P. McTighe, “The Development of the UK Nuclear Power Industry” Atom, 170 (Dec. 1970) pp. 246–7.Google Scholar
  16. 34.
    British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, Annual Reports and Accounts (1971/72 to 1979/ 80).Google Scholar
  17. 35.
    Sir John Hill, “The Scope and Limitations of International Cooperation concerning the Nuclear Fuel Cycle”, Symposium on International Cooperation in the Nuclear Field: Perspectives and Prospects. Proceedings ( Paris: OECD/NEA, 1978 ) p. 53.Google Scholar
  18. 36.
    William Wallace, The Foreign Policy Process in Britain ( London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1975 ) p. 142.Google Scholar
  19. 37.
    Ennals, House of Commons Debates, 895 (16 July 1978) cols 481–2 (written).Google Scholar
  20. 45.
    J. G. Collier, “The Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Proliferation”, in Environmental Impact of Nuclear Power (London: BNES, 1981 ) pp. 273, 275.Google Scholar
  21. 58.
    House of Commons, First Report from the Select Committee on Energy (1981); the poll is reported in The Times 6 Aug. 1980.Google Scholar
  22. 60.
    David Fishlock, in The Financial Times, 13 Dec. 1979.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Boardman and James F. Keeley 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Boardman
  • Malcolm Grieve

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations