Monday, August 30, 2004

ECan elections go Nuclear!

Just a few days ago I said:
The heat has gone out of the contest for ECan seats due to the death of Idiot Neil Cherry.

I was wrong, wrong, WRONG! The Press reported today that:
Environment Canterbury (ECan) will debate the merits of nuclear power after a controversial decision that has prompted outrage and astonishment.

ECan councillors voted eight to five in favour of holding a debate, public meetings and workshops on various questions about energy – including the potential of nuclear power.

I'm still bemused by the politics of this. The initial motion was moved by a Labour Councillor, Dr Ian Robertson, and cites unnamed Greenpeace experts (I think David Bellamy and Jack Lovelock are meant) that "green future is a nuclear future".

However looking at the ECan website turns up this news release by Richard Budd, who voted for the motion and is Chair of the Energy Committee:
Cr Budd said today "In the debate in Council about water use and energy last week the statements made by an outgoing councillor on nuclear energy and hydrogen may have been construed as the views of the Council. This is not the case. If we are to publicly debate and discuss the future of water use and energy in this region, we must acknowledge that people will have views about wind, solar, hydrogen and even nuclear forms of energy. We cannot have meaningful debate and discussion without at least hearing those views - whether they are for or against

The lack of a terminal full stop is in the original press release. The actual motion apparently was:
At the Council meeting last week, councillors voted that the Regional Council "actively seek a great deal of further knowledge on and actively debate the relative costs and values of water usage and of energy production in and for the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand"(quote from the notice of motion).

"Those issues are extremely important for the residents of this region," said Cr Budd. "In debating those issues it is quite possible that the issue of nuclear energy will arise. But this council does not advocate nuclear energy, our stance on that is already enshrined in our Regional Policy Statement."

The Regional Policy Statement (operative from 1998) states ' The Regional Council believes the nuclear free issue is a national one which has been resolved at central government level by an Act of Parliament. However, in recognising the importance of this issue the Regional Council has passed a resolution: "that the Council expresses its strongest support for the terms of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987" '.

Now I have to question Richard Budd's spin that this is a storm in a teacup for two councillors at the meeting (one for and one against) did speak about Nuclear Power and if the motion was so mild as he suggests, then it's strange that five councillors would be opposed to it. I suspect that a vigorous debate actually broke out over Dr Robertson's speech supporting the motion. Hence those that voted against it, voted against Dr Robertson's speech while some of the voters for it voted for the motion and not as an endorsement of the speech.

Now it may be that Dr Robertson was playing silly buggers to annoy the Greens. If so, he's succeeded brilliantly and many ECan Councillors are going to have a much more heated campaign than they anticipated.