Purely a matter of luck

Twenty years ago to this very day, on 31 July 1993, there was an accident at the Wylfa nuclear power plant. One of the reactors was being refuelled, but the crane (or, more technically, the grab) that was being used to do it broke and fell into the reactor itself. It became jammed in one of the refuelling channels and blocked it.

What were the consequences of this accident? Well, nothing was reported at the time. Nuclear Electric, the new private operator which had taken over running the plant, gave it a zero rating, implying that it had no significance in safety terms. It was a deliberate attempt to downplay the incident and therefore make sure that it was not reported to the authorities or, more damagingly, in the media.

How serious it was only leaked out a few years later. When the matter eventually went to the courts the Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations said it was potentially the most serious incident he had come across in Britain during his career. The Health and Safety Executive said that it was "purely a matter of luck that a meltdown did not occur". Nuclear Electric were found guilty and were landed with a huge fine. The details are here.


Fukushima went into meltdown because its cooling systems were put out of action by a tsunami. Supporters of the nuclear industry say it couldn't happen in Wales because we don't have tsunamis ... although we might well have had one in 1607. Nor do we have earthquakes that might cause one ... although, as we can read here, there have been quite a few earthquakes in north Wales, including two this year. But you don't need to have some sort of natural disaster to set up a nuclear meltdown, it can be caused by something as simple as an unforeseen accident during a normal, routine event. The only thing that prevented the incident at Wylfa becoming a meltdown was luck. It was purely a matter of luck.


Let's imagine that luck had not been on our side twenty years ago and the reactor at Wylfa had gone into meltdown. What would have happened? On one scale, and obviously the most important one, it is unlikely that many people would have been killed. I don't think anyone died as a direct result of the meltdown at Fukushima, and only a few dozen people died as a direct result of the meltdown at Chernobyl. But on another scale it would have been devastating, literally devastating, because a large area surrounding the plant would be unsafe for human habitation and need to be evacuated. In Fukushima there is a 20km compulsory evacuation zone and a 30km voluntary evacuation zone, but people in some towns outside the 30km zone were told to leave too.


This is what the same evacuation zones would be on Môn. The 20km zone in red would extend in an arc reaching as far as Rhosneigr, Llangefni and Benllech. The 30km voluntary evacuation zone in yellow would include just about the whole island. Holyhead would be well within the compulsory evacuation zone, which would have a knock-on effect for the whole of north Wales because the vital transport artery to Ireland would be severed. The ferries would now leave from Liverpool instead ... with only a slight detour to avoid sailing through the contaminated zone.


Ynys Môn is an island with several huge advantages from an energy point of view. It is right in the middle of the Irish Sea, making it a perfect location from which to assemble and maintain the offshore windfarms that have been built, and the huge offshore windfarms that are about to be built. Holyhead could be to the Irish Sea what Aberdeen is to the North Sea oil and gas industry, and become very prosperous because of it.


The island also has some of the best tidal flow resources to be found anywhere around the coast of Britain. This map is from the Atlas of Marine Renewable Resources:


And from a nuclear point of view the island has advantages too, but rather different ones. Technically there is no reason why a nuclear power plant can't be built anywhere providing it is next to the sea or a large river or lake for cooling. But the UK government would not dream of building a nuclear power station on the banks of the Thames or the Mersey. If they did, they would have to evacuate millions of people in the event of an accident. Ynys Môn has a population of only 70,000, so permanently evacuating half the island would mean that maybe only 35,000 people would have to find new homes. I'm sure that if the refugees were divided equally between Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and London, those cities would be able to accommodate them with hardly any trouble at all. The real advantage of building a nuclear power station in a place like Môn, from the point of view of a government based in London, is political. The island is expendable.

But is it expendable from our point of view? Môn, Mam Cymru, is a vital part of our culture, our history, our language ... and our future. I simply cannot understand why anyone who claims to put the people of Môn, or the people of Wales, first would want to take such a risk. Yes, it makes perfect sense for a government in London to think that Môn is a good location for a nuclear power station, but it makes no sense for anyone in Wales to think that way. Not when the island is so perfectly located to take advantage of offshore wind and tidal energy instead, creating just as many high-quality, permanent jobs as a nuclear power station could ever provide, but with no risk whatsoever of half the island having to be evacuated in the event of an accident. Supporting Wylfa B is a betrayal of what Plaid Cymru stands for. If Rhun ap Iorwerth is elected, it would be a tragedy for Plaid Cymru, for Ynys Môn and for Wales.

Am I writing this because the Ynys Môn by-election is taking place tomorrow, or because the incident that so nearly led to a meltdown in one of the reactors at Wylfa happened exactly twenty years ago?

Both. The coincidence is purely a matter of luck.

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Parents, Personalities and Power

I've just finished reading a book on Welsh-medium education in south-east Wales which I'd like to recommend to others who are interested in the subject. It's called Parents, Personalities and Power.


The book is divided into two parts. The first part is by Huw S Thomas, who was head of Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni. As someone who has only become interested in Welsh-medium education over the past few years, I found this part interesting as an overview of all that has happened over the past few decades; particularly the thinking and motivation of those who worked hard to establish Welsh-medium schools, and the strategies and tactics they used to get them, often in the face of considerable inertia if not outright resistance.

The second part is a series of single-chapter essays from a number of different viewpoints by David Hawker, Michael LN Jones, Geraint Rees, Rhodri Morgan and Jeni Price. Rhodri Morgan's piece stood out from the others in showing how Labour politicians in Cardiff think and—in the light of what's now happening over the new Welsh-medium school in Grangetown—provides some insight into why the same blind spots and intransigence are still there.

The whole thing is topped and tailed with an introduction by Colin H Williams and a concluding chapter by him and Meirion Prys Jones.

First and foremost it is an academic book, and that makes it essential reading for those with more than a passing interest in the subject. But at the same time it is actually a very good read, and therefore useful for anyone who is thinking about what is best for their own children.


As for my personal impressions, the book helped confirm a conclusion that I have held for some time: namely that reversing language shift, and going further by establishing Welsh as a language for the whole of Wales rather than just parts of it, is fundamental in terms of our collective identity as a nation and our increasing confidence to govern ourselves as an independent nation.

Yet the book made it clear to me that we are at a crossroads. Welsh-medium schools were established by the hard work and extraordinary commitment of parents and others acting at an individual and group level to get government and local government to take Welsh seriously. But since devolution, first with Iaith Pawb in 2003, and now with Iaith Fyw: Iaith Byw and the Welsh-medium Education Strategy in particular, the focus has shifted from something that was undoubtedly a bottom-up movement to something that is also a top-down movement.

Of course I welcome the fact that successive Welsh Governments of varying political colours have recognized the importance of Wales becoming a fully bilingual nation and the role of Welsh-medium education as one of the primary means of achieving it. But if their involvement engenders a general feeling that Welsh is something for government to take care of, I wonder if it will make parents and other concerned individuals and groups less inclined to take an active part in fighting for the establishment of more Welsh-medium schools. I hope it doesn't, but I fear it might.


There's another review of the book at gwales.com, and you can buy it from them for £25 or shop around and get it for a few pounds less.

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Rhun ap Iorwerth is lying about Wylfa B

Today's Sunday Supplement was largely devoted to the Ynys Môn by-election on Thursday. The full debate can be heard below or downloaded here but, as readers would expect, I want to focus on what was said about Wylfa B, and in particular this exchange between Vaughan Roderick and Rhun ap Iorwerth:

VR:  But, to be clear, Plaid Cymru want decisions over power stations to be devolved. If Wylfa B was on the table in the Assembly, and you had to vote yes or no, which way would you vote?

RhapI:  I am being quite clear, and I can't make it any clearer: I am saying yes to Wylfa B.

VR:  But your party doesn't say that.

RhapI:  Plaid Cymru is a party, unlike many of the other parties, that actually discusses decisions and decides what's best for Wales. You know that there's been a policy in Plaid Cymru going back 40 years where we've said, "Develop nuclear power stations on the sites where there are nuclear power stations in the past." It's nothing new for a member of Plaid Cymru, and somebody who wants to be an elected member for Plaid Cymru, to say let's support the continuation of nuclear power generation on the site where that has been happening for decades.

VR:  I'm sorry, that does sound an awful lot like having your cake in Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Ynys Môn and eating it elsewhere.


If Rhun wants clarity, then we need to be absolutely clear that he is misleading people on this issue by telling blatant lies.

Plaid Cymru does discuss issues and makes policy decisions that we believe are in the best interests of Wales (although it is a bit naïve for Rhun to think that most other parties don't make decisions in a similar way), and while it might or might not be true to say that Plaid used to have a policy of developing nuclear power stations on existing sites at some time in the past, it has most definitely not been Plaid Cymru's policy for some years. The decision made at conference is that Plaid Cymru are totally opposed to the construction of any nuclear power station in Wales, including a new nuclear power station at Wylfa B [click to display] and Rhun is deliberately misleading people by pretending otherwise.

Although it is nothing new for a member of Plaid Cymru to support the continuation of nuclear power, those members are definitely in a minority within the party. However it is of much more concern to me that Rhun did not make his position on nuclear power clear to party members at the hustings when he was selected as Plaid's candidate. The position he presented at that time was "more or less identical" to that of Ann Griffith and Heledd Fychan, and Heledd made it clear that she was opposed to nuclear power. Nor did he make his support for Wylfa B clear in the statements he made immediately after he had been selected; instead he hid his position behind tortuously ambiguous words both in his interview with the Daily Post and on his own blog. I've commented on what he said here and here.

His support for Wylfa B (as opposed to support for maximizing local employment opportunities if Wylfa B were to be built, which is entirely different) only came out in a careless tweet last week. It should therefore be obvious to anyone that Rhun deliberately misled Plaid members in Môn in order to be selected.


We do not need dishonest politicians like Rhun ap Iorwerth. If he's elected on Thursday he will be a liability to Plaid Cymru for years to come, because he clearly isn't interested in Plaid's policies for Wales. He is a cuckoo who has duped his way into our nest in order to follow a private agenda of his own, or the agenda of a narrow interest group within the party that refuses to accept democratic decisions made by the membership as a whole.

The only person who sounded convincing on the issue of nuclear power was Kathrine Jones of the Socialist Labour Party. Her position was far closer to that of Plaid Cymru than Rhun's.

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A Political Liability

Rhun ap Iorwerth hasn't excelled himself on the matter of whether a new nuclear power station should be built at Wylfa.

His first public statement about it was in this interview with the Daily Post, in which he said he had a long-held opinion, but didn't actually say what it was. I called this statement "tortuously ambiguous" in my comment about it in this post. However in that same post I went on say what I thought he should have said about it.

A few days later Rhun made another statement about Wylfa, this time on his election blog, in which he answered some of the points I'd made. Some of those answers were very welcome but he still wouldn't answer the most fundamental question, which was whether he supports or opposes Wylfa B. Instead, he said that he will listen to the people of Môn. In response, I wrote this post, which reminded him that if he really did want to listen to the people of Ynys Môn, he should look at the survey conducted by the University of Bangor which showed that only a minority (35%) of local people wanted to jobs to be created in the nuclear sector, but that 74% wanted energy jobs on the island to be created in the alternative/renewable energy sector instead.

I also made it very clear that listening only to views that you are predisposed to agree with, and then claiming your position is based on what that group is saying while ignoring what the majority is saying is a shameful way of doing politics.

I was content to leave it at that. This by-election is a contest between Labour and Plaid Cymru, and it is better for Ynys Môn to have a Plaid AM who is ambiguous about whether he supports or opposes nuclear energy than a Labour AM who unambiguously supports it.


But thanks to this post on Ifan Morgan Jones' blog, it appears that Rhun wasn't content to leave it at that. This is a message that he tweeted yesterday:

As he can hardly have been tired or drunk at the time of day he tweeted it, it seems that Rhun's lack of political experience and maturity is starting to show through. He had gone out of his way to make two carefully crafted statements in which he managed to avoid saying whether he supported Wylfa B or not, presumably (and rightly) concerned that if he spoke out in favour of it he would alienate not only the majority of members in Plaid Cymru, but at the same time—and perhaps more importantly—alienate the majority of people in Môn who do not want jobs in the form of a new nuclear power station, but want them created in producing electricity cleanly instead.

If Rhun was a person of political principle or character, why had he been afraid to make it clear that he supported Wylfa B in his previous statements to the Daily Post and on his own blog? Carefully constructed deviousness is the only explanation for it ... which has now been exposed by a careless tweet. Perhaps someone with more political sense wrote those statements for him, but when left to his own devices he lost all semblance of that previous wisdom.

So it looks like Rhun is going to be a political liability for Plaid Cymru. He hid behind the line that he was going to listen to what people on Môn want, but it now seems clear that he had already decided he would ignore them in order to pursue a private political agenda of his own. We might well have hung another Dafydd Elis-Thomas round our necks.

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Welsh for Adults

There was a story in Golwg360 yesterday about the publication of a report on the way we teach Welsh to adult learners. There wasn't a link to the report itself, and I tried adding one via the comments, but the system doesn't appear to like links.

So I thought I'd put them up here, as it would be a chance to invite people to read it in English as well as Welsh. Click the image of your choice.


It's a bit long, and I have to say that, as I skimmed through it last night, it's a bit dry. But a longer read might do it more justice. It's probably best to start with the conclusions and recommendations on page 69.

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Making it a little closer

If anyone in Wales ever needed convincing about Plaid Cymru's innate sense of political fair play, they need only look at the graphic I was sent today by our campaign organizers. The English strapline is, "Ior-werth it!"

Who do we think we are? LibDems?


Here we are, half way through a by-election campaign which political commentators say even a donkey wearing a Plaid rosette would be expected to win by twenty lengths; so we handicap him by putting out material which can only be designed to give Labour's Taliesin Michael a tantalizing glimpse of hope.

Rhun will still win anyway, but I suppose the finish will be a little more exciting if we give Tal a chance to catch up.

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Buy a hat, Martin

As someone who has no hair on my head, the best advice I can give to someone with as wispy a head of hair as Martin Shipton is to go out and invest in a good Panama.


It's been hot and sunny for the past few days ... and if people let the sun get the better of them, they'll believe and write all sorts of silly nonsense.

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Bad News about Welsh from the Schools Census

The first release of the Schools Census figures from January this year was published yesterday, and is available from this page.


The figures for Welsh-medium schools and pupils are in Table 2, and these can be compared with the overall figures in Table 5 to give the following percentages for primary schools:

Primary Schools

2009 ... Total 258,314 ... WM 59,898 = 23.19%
2010 ... Total 257,445 ... WM 60,318 = 23.43%
2011 ... Total 259,189 ... WM 61,073 = 23.56%
2012 ... Total 262,144 ... WM 62,446 = 23.82%
2013 ... Total 264,186 ... WM 63,192 = 23.92%

The WM figure includes WM, Dual Stream and Transitional (50-70% in Welsh) Schools.

It's progress, but it's painfully slow progress. However this shouldn't come as a surprise, because it mirrors the same minuscule increases in Welsh first language assessments which were reported in the two annual reports on progress towards the targets set in the Welsh-medium Education Strategy that I talked about here and here.

I will repeat what I said before: that with this rate of progress there is absolutely no chance of us reaching the 25% target for Welsh first language assessments at the end of Key Stage 1 by 2015. The current Welsh Government has said that it wants to be judged on "delivery, delivery, delivery" ... but it isn't delivering. And for all Leighton Andrews' bluster and tough talk about Welsh, he is the one that failed to deliver on these targets. There's all the difference in the world between talking and doing.


These are the corresponding figures for secondary and middle schools:

Secondary (& Middle) Schools

2009 ... Total 205,421 ... WM 41,916 = 20.40%
2010 ... Total 203,907 ... WM 43,432 = 21.30%
2011 ... Total 201,230 ... WM 41,746 = 20.75%
2012 ... Total 198,015 ... WM 41,262 = 20.84%
2013 ... Total 194,895 ... WM 39,326 = 20.18%

The WM figure includes WM and Bilingual Schools.

Although it is very disappointing to see that the percentage is now at its lowest for five years, it's actually hard to tell exactly what is happening from these figures alone. This is because "bilingual" has a wide range of meanings, as defined in this document. A Category 2A school teaches at least 80% of subjects only in Welsh. Category 2B and 2C schools teach at least 80% and 50-79% of subjects in Welsh, but also teach those subjects in English. That means it is possible for students to be taught entirely in English in a Category 2B or 2C school, and for some of them (currently about a fifth of the total in WM and bilingual schools) to study Welsh to second rather than to first language standard.

Therefore the only reliable figure for Welsh to first language standard in secondary schools is the percentage assessed in Welsh first language, and that figure is not available in this first release. However the signs do not look good. In 2012, the percentage of Key Stage 3 assessments in Welsh first language was 16.3% out of the 20.8% in the table above. So with a 0.7% fall this year, it's very hard to see the figure of 16.3% going up. The target is 19% by 2015.


It pains me to say it, but the current Welsh Government is rushing headlong towards an ignominious failure to meet its own targets for WM education. Now that Carwyn has taken on direct responsibility for Welsh, he needs to wake up to what's happening and do something about it. Urgently.

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The economic rationale behind investment

The only way that investment makes any economic sense is for it to either pay for itself in the long term, or avoid the necessity of paying a greater sum for something else.

In the case of investment in transport infrastructure, for example a new road, the reason for doing it is that it will make it easier to do business. As a result the businesses affected will make more profit and/or employ more people; and perhaps new businesses will be set up or relocate from elsewhere in order to do the same.

When the public sector makes the decision to build a new road, it will (unless it is a toll road) aim to recoup the money borrowed to build it through an increase in tax receipts. If the companies affected are more profitable, the government will get more corporation tax. If the companies affected employ more people, the government will get more income tax and national insurance. If the people these companies take on were previously unemployed, the government will save money by no longer having to pay them benefits.

These are the ways in which public sector investment can pay for itself. It's a question of doing the sums to see what those benefits might be, and balancing them against the cost of the investment. If the sums add up, fine. If they don't, there is no economic justification for building the road.


Now let's look at the specific case of a new road in Wales. The Welsh Government might well be granted borrowing powers that would enable it to pay for a new road, but how can it expect to recoup the cost of that investment? Any extra corporation tax will go to ... the Treasury in London. Any extra income tax and national insurance will go to ... the Treasury in London. Any money saved by no longer having to pay benefits will be kept by ... the Treasury in London.

The Welsh Government pays, but all the benefits go directly to the Treasury in London.

The current Welsh Government is working itself into a frenzy of excitement because it is likely to be given powers to borrow. But in terms of paying that money back, it is relying on a handful of minor taxes like aggregate levy, stamp duty, landfill tax and air passenger duty (and it could only do that by increasing those taxes, even though the indications are that they would reduce stamp duty and air passenger duty).

Yet, at the same time, it has turned its back on devolution of corporation tax, income tax, and the benefits system. To the extent that the Welsh Government was willing to take responsibility for these things it would get an economic return on any wise investment that it made. If it took control of 50% of income tax, it would get 50% of any increase in income tax that came as a result of the investment. If it took control of 66% of corporation tax, it would get 66% of any increase in corporation tax that came as a result of the investment.


Like an 18 year old who is about to get their first credit card, the current Welsh Government can see what it wants to buy and has worked out that it will just be able to pay the interest out of the receipts from a few minor taxes. But it doesn't have the foresight to realize that the far larger additional income stream that could and should be used to pay off the debt and result in greater prosperity for Wales is going to be channelled straight into the coffers of the Treasury in London instead, to be shared across the UK as a whole.

This is why borrowing powers must be linked to taxation powers. It's not only about being able to afford the interest payments; it's about whether the investments we make will be of overall economic advantage to Wales. An arrangement under which we pay 100% of the cost of an investment but only get 5% of any return on that investment is economic madness.

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A Deranged Experiment

Any article with an opening paragraph like this deserves to be read.

If you've been taught at an English-medium school in Wales, then you're the product of a deranged experiment.

Welsh Not, 8 July 2013

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Rod and Emu

Rod Richards is a fairly regular contributor to programmes like CF99, and even though he's lost none of his ability to make people laugh, I never figured out why he dropped Emu from his act.


But all has now been revealed.

According to this story in today's Western Mail, Rod has now joined UKIP ... and no member of UKIP could be seen to have anything to do with Emu.

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Nice Graphics

There are some nice graphics on Scottish independence on Munguin's Republic today, and I've picked a couple that apply to Wales every bit as much as they do to Scotland.



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Listening to the people

Because I was unhappy with the tortuous ambiguity of what Rhun ap Iorwerth had said about nuclear power in his first public statement on the subject in the Daily Post last week, I set out what I had hoped he would say about it in my post of 30 June.

Fair play to him, Rhun has now gone some way to address these points in his election blog, here. I'll reproduce it in full, because it is important to put things in perspective and stress that nuclear power is by no means the only issue in this by-election. I agree fully with him that the main priorities are jobs and the economy on the island, and that any discussion about nuclear power in general, or the proposal to build Wylfa B in particular, must be put into that context.

Listening to the people of Anglesey

I have reported on countless elections as a reporter, but after four days of campaigning as the Plaid Cymru candidate in Ynys Môn, I now know that nothing compares with being really in the thick of it. Nothing compares with the pavement pounding, the buzz and excitement of working as part of a large team of volunteers, and nothing compares with meeting a voter, looking them straight in the eyes and listening to what's important to them.

When I was selected as the Plaid Cymru candidate, I said that my priorities are jobs and the economy, and already it's becoming clear that these priorities are shared by the island's residents.

Yes, there are other problems. I have already visited a number of homes for the elderly, where staff and residents are concerned about the future of their homes. We must protect them as vital assets for the island. I'm being asked to do all I can to help small businesses, to protect school budgets, to oppose new electricity pylons, to look after farmers' interests. The list is long. I hope to have an opportunity to write about some of these matters over the coming weeks.

I will deal now, however, with one issue linked closely to my top priorities. That is Wylfa, and my position is clear and firm.

Quite simply we must listen to the people of Anglesey. Yes, I hear concerns and I am keen to reflect those – valid concerns about waste and safety, long-term costs and demographic effects. But I hear clearly from the island's residents that we cannot ignore the potential for local jobs – long-term jobs that pay well – as well as the implications for businesses that could benefit from the development.

It is not London, but we in Wales who should decide on energy policy, but if Wylfa is to be developed, only we in Plaid Cymru will work hard to ensure that the interests of the people of Ynys Môn and Wales are considered and protected to the greatest extent possible.

Only Plaid Cymru will fight to ensure that the well-being of our communities are considered. Only Plaid Cymru will press for answers to the questions about safety, cost and waste. Only Plaid Cymru will genuinely fight for jobs for young people on this island. The economy must be the basis of language planning in future. We must stop the exodus of young people from our island.

Wylfa is not the only economic answer, and should be just one element of careful long-term planning which would also include being innovative in the field of renewable energy and the green economy.

I will do my best to listen to the people of Anglesey between now and August 1st, and the debate on Wylfa will be just one element of the campaign. I'm putting my fellow islanders first, but I believe that winning in Ynys Môn is also crucial to Plaid Cymru's challenge to take Wales on to the next step in its development.

Rhun ap Iorwerth's by-election blog, 2 July 2013

I warmly welcome some of the things Rhun has now said. It is particularly important to say that decisions about energy in Wales should be made in Wales rather than in Westminster, and it is particularly important to acknowledge that issues such as the long-term costs of dealing with toxic waste are real problems that have not been properly addressed in the proposals as presented.

But it must also be said that Rhun has not made his position either clear or firm on the fundamental question of whether he supports or opposes Wylfa B. Instead, he says that he will listen to the people of Môn.

OK, let's do exactly that.

A survey carried out by Bangor University in 2010 showed that:

91% thought renewable energy was a good or very good idea. Only 2% didn't.

People put solar power, wave machines and windfarms ahead of nuclear power as a way of producing electricity. Only a minority wanted to see nuclear power developed.

74% wanted energy jobs on the island to be created in the alternative/renewable energy sector. Only 35% wanted them created in the nuclear sector.

Bangor University School of Social Sciences, July/August 2010

That should be clear enough to anybody. People in Môn do want to see jobs and investment in energy, but nuclear energy is far from being at the top of their list. A large majority, almost three-quarters, wants that investment in the alternative/renewable energy sector. A minority, only slightly more than a third, wants jobs and investment in a new nuclear power station.


The worst thing a potential politician can do is promise to do something, but then do the opposite. I had hoped Rhun would oppose nuclear energy because he understood the issues involved and had reached his own conclusions about them. But if he ever did do that, he's certainly having problems telling the public what his views are. Saying that you will listen to people and shape your views around what they want is very much second best to having the courage of your own convictions ... but let's see if Rhun will do what he says.

The evidence from the Bangor University survey is clear and objective. So if Rhun is serious about listening to what local people want, it is obvious what he must do. But listening only to views that you are predisposed to agree with, and then claiming your position is based on what that group is saying while ignoring what the majority is saying is a shameful way of doing politics.


This isn't a matter of fine debate, it is a matter that has some very serious, practical consequences. Rhun has said that he wants to address the problems of how to deal with the toxic waste that nuclear power stations produce. Under the current proposals, waste that is very much more toxic than anything Wylfa A produced will have to be stored on site for generations to come rather than taken away for storage and reprocessing.

If this new power station goes ahead, the single most important thing Rhun could do for the sake of protecting future generations is to get Westminster to change their plans and make sure that this toxic waste is taken and stored somewhere else. It isn't just a matter of safety, it's a matter of cost. The extensive safety and security measures required to keep the public safe on an ongoing basis cost very large sums of money. UK governments have consistently underestimated the cost of storing toxic nuclear waste, and have been forced to revise the estimate upwards every few years when it becomes obvious that the previous estimate was wrong. Even though the operators of the proposed new generation of nuclear plants are meant to set aside money for this, it is very unlikely that this will cover the cost, and the public purse will eventually have to pay for it. This cost is something Wales will struggle to afford in future.


Rhun is right to say that Plaid Cymru can press for nuclear waste to be stored somewhere else in a way that Labour can't. But we can only do this by being consistent in our opposition to nuclear power.

If you are in favour of Wylfa B and fight for it to happen, you cannot then argue that you want someone else to relieve you of the consequences of your choice. The Westminster government will turn round and say, "Look, you were the ones who wanted us to spend billions of pounds in Anglesey because you said you wanted jobs in nuclear. We gave you what you wanted. You can't now turn around and say that you want us to take care of the problem of nuclear waste. Toxic waste is an inherent by-product of generating electricity in nuclear power stations. You cannot have one without the other. So you have to live with it."

Labour have nailed their colours to the mast and are now powerless to protect us from the consequences of having to live with this toxic waste for generations to come. We in Plaid Cymru can do better, but we can only successfully press for the toxic waste that Wylfa B produces to be stored elsewhere if we are clear that we never wanted a new nuclear power station in the first place, and had instead put our efforts into fighting for alternative, cleaner ways of generating electricity. Anything else would be hypocrisy.

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Ebooks in Welsh on Kindle

I've just received an email from Y Lolfa saying that their petition to Amazon to allow ebooks in Welsh to be published on the Kindle platform is due to close on 12 July.

Amazon E-book Petition

Thank you for signing the petition calling on Amazon to allow the publishing of Welsh language e-Books on Kindle. It has been signed by over 4,000 people to date. We will close the petition on Friday the 12th of July. We will be sending copies of the petition to the headquarters of Amazon in Seattle and Luxemburg and to Amazon’s Director of Public Policy in Brussels. Copies will also be sent to Meri Hughes, the Welsh Language Commissioner and to Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales.

So far it has been extremely difficult to get any response from Amazon and we would appreciate any suggestions on how we can get Amazon to change their minds. You are welcome to call on friends to sign the petition by following this link http://www.deisebelyfrau.org/

Pob hwyl

Garmon Gruffudd

It is particularly unfair for Amazon to single out Welsh this way because they already publish ebooks in other minority languages such as Basque, Catalan and Galician. There is no conceivable technical difficulty in publishing ebooks in Welsh. In fact Y Lolfa has published ebooks on the Kindle platform in Welsh before, using the loophole of officially describing them as being in English. But Amazon have now closed that loophole and will not allow any more ebooks in Welsh to be published on Kindle. That's why this petition is so important.


I've just checked the website and 4,102 people have signed so far. To me, that seems to be a pathetically low number. So I'm writing this post to urge more people to sign before it closes next week. Let's make a concerted effort to get this number into the tens of thousands, using our blogs, social media, email lists and any other means we can think of.

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