FOR THE second time in two days, a major Government programme has received a major rebuff from leading countryside campaigners.
On Tuesday, its White Paper on new planning laws was heavily criticised. Yesterday, it was the outline of future energy policy with heavy emphasis on new nuclear power stations that came under attack.
It is a dangerous and expensive distraction from the real issue...we need an immediate massive boost for clean energy
Keith Allott - WWF
The Campaign to Protect Rural England described the energy policy as "a sham" and an "empty gesture" because it would take too long to have the desired effects on reducing global warming gasses.
What is needed now, said the CPRE, is immediate action now to reduce the demand for energy and programmes to combat the effects of global warming.
Keith Allott, head of WWF-UK's climate change programme added: "Nuclear is the wolf in sheep's clothing here. The government is dressing it up as a panacea for climate change. It is not. It is a dangerous and expensive distraction from the real issue, which is that we need an immediate massive boost for clean energy projects and energy efficiency."
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds also launched a savage attack on the Government's biggest non-nuclear proposal, a huge dam across the River Severn estuary to generate electricity from tidal power.
Although agreeing that tidal power could be effective in some areas of the coast, it described the Severn plan, first mooted four years ago, as "a bad idea in 2003 and a worse idea now" - one that would cause "untold damage to the environment."
For people in the North of England, however, there was a glimmer of hope. Most of the proposed new nuclear power stations are in the South and South West, where demand for electricity is growing fastest.
Some cynical observers, however, believe that such planning could have a political rather than an economic motive: they are mostly in parliamentary seats in the hands of Conservative or Liberal Democrat MPs.
This follows a pattern of recent announcements about the possible closure of AE and maternity units in scores of hospitals which are largely in areas of Tory or Lib-Dem control.