Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Vote blue, go green?

Meet Greg. He's the man who could decide the fate of thousands of jobs on Anglesey and Wales's energy supply.

Greg (Clark) is the shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Within months, if the polls are right, he will be in charge of Britain's energy policy (well, most of Britain, and most energy policy anyway).

For all the talk of fast-tracking nuclear power planning decisions, by the time of the next election it's unlikely that a planning application to build a new reactor (or two) near the existing ones at Wylfa will have been submitted.

So any application could land on Greg's desk, as the Conservatives have said Labour's Infrastructure Planning Commission is not democratically accountable.

So what will he do? The Conservatives, for whom nuclear power was "a last resort" back in 2006, now see it as a vital part of Britain's energy mix. They wish this week's decision had been made earlier.

So will Wylfa get the same priority as it has under Ed Miliband? Will the Conservatives press ahead with a new plant there?

Forgive all the questions; I put a few of them to Greg's shadow cabinet colleague, Cheryl Gillan, this afternoon.

She devoted her contributions to Welsh Questions in the Commons to highlighting Labour's "mixed signals" over nuclear power - although the opposition comes in the main from politicians would would not have the final say on the issue.

I asked whether a Conservative government would press ahead with Wylfa Will a Conservative government press ahead with Wylfa. "I hope so" was the response.

Perhaps it is the effect of 12 and a half years in opposition that has left the Conservatives so focused on attacking the Government that is has lost sight of the imminence of the general election.

So we don't know for sure whether the Conservatives would carry forward Labour's energy plans, or, for that matter, press ahead with plans to locate the defence training centre at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The Conservatives questioned the Government's prison-building plans in the Commons today. So would a Tory government build a prison in the north?

I suppose it's asking too much this close to the election to enquire after a Tory government's plans for the Barnett formula and a bank holiday on St David's Day.

Speaking of which, I wandered along to the unveiling of Plaid Cymru's alternative Queen's Speech this lunchtime. The traditional St David's Day (Bank Holiday) Bill was missing.

I'll leave you to decide whether this is a "snub to Wales" or "a slap in the face".

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