Richard North, 11/10/2004  

Normally, if an EU commissioner so much as spits, the ever-willing service de presse rushes out a release describing every monotonous detail. Not so it seems with energy commissioner Loyola de Palacio – until 1 November that is – who attended a conference on 28 September of this year and uttered what in many of the hallowed quarters of the EU would be seen as heresy.

And the nature of the heresy? Dr Loyola de Palacio say we must go nuclear.

Addressing industry representatives, NGOs and media, the commissioner emphasised that "Kyoto is a way, not the goal. The challenge of combating climate change is much more far reaching". Nuclear energy remains the only option to cut down on emissions," she maintained. "In the foreseeable future, we need nuclear power to keep emissions down." Pressed by horrified NGO representatives on nuclear safety and nuclear waste, she said that "there are risks, but they are calculable. There is no other option".

Strangely, when de Palacio decided to take legal action against Britain, earlier that month, for alleged failure to clean up the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant, it was headline news. But, doing a "google" for any stories on de Palcio’s views on the need for nuclear power, not a single story showed up. They certainly kept that one quiet.

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