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.
This is the full text of the motion as approved by Plaid Cymru at our conference in 2011:
NUCLEAR ENERGY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
(Newport Branches / European Parliamentary Group)
1. The tragic consequence of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan which led to the dangerous situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, namely that fuel in the reactors produced considerable amounts of heat which led to a full meltdown, causing radioactive material to leak.
2. That the incident at Fukushima, occurring on the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl, heightens concerns for the safety of nuclear energy.
3. That as a result the European Commission has proposed stress tests on all current nuclear reactors, and the UK government has called on the Chief Nuclear Inspector to carry out a review of nuclear installations.
4. That as a result, Germany has announced that all the country’s nuclear power plants will be phased out by 2022. Switzerland has also committed to phasing out nuclear power by 2034.
Conference further notes:
1. The essential principle of energy independence given Plaid’s long term ambition for devolved sovereignty and independence.
2. That as a net exporter of energy with massive undeveloped renewable energy potential new nuclear developments are not required in Wales in the long term in order to meet energy demand. Further investment is required into developing the potential of wave and tidal technologies which when commercialised could lead to Wales becoming more self sufficient in renewable energy.
3. That cost per KW of production for some forms of renewable power generation are lower than nuclear.
4. That the long term costs of nuclear decommissioning are not calculated.
5. The proven evidence of the effect of carbon emissions towards catastrophic climate change, also the growing pressure on fossil fuel resources including significant commodity price escalation as we approach peak fossil fuel production.
6. That the current coalition government’s policies on the carbon price floor will serve in the short term to raise consumer fuel bills and will leave the nuclear industry by the far the biggest beneficiary and also therefore fail to optimise the potential investment in renewable energy that variants of this legislation could bring.
1. Plaid Cymru’s belief that all energy decisions should be devolved in full to Wales.
2. Plaid Cymru’s total opposition to the construction of any new nuclear power stations. If the Westminster government gives the go ahead for a new nuclear power station at Wylfa, we should make sure that the investment recognises the need to employ local people, invest in training to maximise local employment and make sure that indigenous companies benefit from supply chain opportunities.
1. For Plaid at all levels to lobby the coalition Westminster government to restructure Carbon Price Floor legislation in order to exempt nuclear power from receiving any form of public funded subsidy.
2. For the EU’s nuclear stress tests to be carried out by independent experts and to be based on robust criteria.
3. On Plaid Cymru to welcome Germany’s decision to phase out all nuclear power stations and to encourage other governments across the world, including the United Kingdom, to follow their lead.
4. For greater investment by the Welsh government in renewables and energy efficiency measures.
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.