Seminar 2: Liverpool

Nuclear Energy in the UK (November 1st 2013, Liverpool)

9 – 9.30am: Coffee and Welcome

9.30am-10am: Introduction and Overview
Darren McCauley and Andy Plater, Going Nuclear? And Arcoes

10-11am: Session 1

  • Paul Dorfman, “Certainty and Uncertainty in Nuclear Power”
  • Phil Johnstone, “From Hinkley C to Hinkley C: Exploring the unresolved tensions of the UK’s nuclear ambitions”

Coffee break

11.30am – 1pm: Session 2

  • Gordon MacKerron, “The financing and economics of new build – why so complex and difficult?”
  • David Lowry, “Insecurity of Supply and Insecurity of Nuclear Facilities”
  • Stephen Thomas, “The UK Nuclear Power Programme: A failure of the public policy process”


1.30pm – 3pm: Session 3

  • Alastair Evans, UK Nuclear Energy Overview from NIA
  • Keith Baker, “Ever Shrinking Windows: The Nuclear Renaissance in Britain”
  • Wouter Poortinga, “Public Understanding and Perceptions of Nuclear Power in Britain”

Coffee break

3.30pm – 4.30pm: Session 4

  • David Toke, “Why the new nuclear programme is not quite as certain as it seems”
  • Andrew Blowers, “Nuclear energy and radioactive waste: will there ever be a solution?”

4.45pm – 5.30pm: Themes, Outputs and Roundtable

  • Marton Fabok, Jenny Armstrong and Kirsten Jenkins, “Todays Themes for Tomorrow”

Speaker profiles

1. Dr Paul Dorfman, UCL Energy Institute, University College London (and Warwick), Founder, Nuclear Consulting Group, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust Nuclear Policy Research Fellow

Dr Dorfman is Honorary Senior Research Associate at the Energy Institute, University College London (UCL); Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) Nuclear Policy Research Fellow; Founder of the Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG); Member, European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER); Advisory Group Member, UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) nuclear Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP); Member, European Nuclear Energy Forum (ENEF) Transparency and Risk Working Groups; served as Secretary to the UK government scientific advisory Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters (CERRIE). Paul is ‘Expert’ to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Opinion: ‘European Energy Dialogue: Towards a European Energy Community’.

2. Prof Stephen Thomas, Energy Policy, Department of International Business and Economics, Business School

Stephen Thomas is Professor of Energy Policy and Director of Research in the Business School of the University of Greenwich, London, where he has led the energy research since 2001. He has a BSc in Chemistry (Bristol). He has worked as an independent energy policy researcher for 35 years. From 1979-2000, he was a member of the Energy Policy Programme at SPRU, University of Sussex and in 2001, he spent a year as a visiting researcher in the Energy Planning Programme at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

He was a member of the team appointed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to carry out the official economic due diligence study for the project to replace the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (1997). He was a member of an international panel appointed by the South African Department of Minerals and Energy to carry out a study of the technical and economic viability of a new design of nuclear power plant, the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (2001-02). He was part of an independent team appointed by Eletronuclear (Brazil) to carry out an assessment of the economics of completing the Angra dos Reis 3 nuclear power plant (2002). He has published extensively on economics and policy on nuclear power.

3. Dr David Lowry, Independent research consultant, Specialist in UK and EU nuclear & environment policy

David Lowry is an independent research consultant with specialist knowledge of UK and EU nuclear & environment policy. He is one of three co-authors of a book, The International Politics of Nuclear Waste, covering France, Germany, Sweden, UK and USA, published by Macmillan press (1991). Since 1992, David Lowry has prepared over 10,000 parliamentary questions for UK MPs, and MEPs from UK, Ireland and Germany, drafted motions for resolution, speeches and articles on their behalf, prepared amendments to Euro-Parliament reports and researched, drafted and steered through to successful European Parliament Plenary Assembly endorsement two committee reports.

Up to the 1997 UK General Election David Lowry acted as policy adviser and researcher for former UK environment minister Michael Meacher MP (when he was shadow Secretary of State for Environmental Protection). In 2000-01 he was a contributing author to a major report on the environmental and health implication of nuclear reprocessing at La Hague & Sellafield for the Science & Technology Options Assessment (STOA) programme of the European Parliament (2000-01), acted as a contributing editor of Plutonium Investigation ( 1999-00) and contributed to an international scientific and policy study project on plutonium fuel (International MOX Assessment IMA Project 1995-97). He has lectured for several summers on Energy at an MSc course at Reading University, an MBA course for BNFL middle managers at Lancaster University and conducted sponsored research in France, Germany and Japan for an ESRC on global environmental change for the Open University.
David Lowry was awarded a PhD on nuclear decision making (“Nuclear Powers”) by the Open University in 1987. He previously studied at the State University of New York (1978-79) and the London School of Economics, London University (1975-78).

In 2001 he was presented with a special award for education at the Nuclear Free Future Foundation annual awards and the UK Campaign for Freedom of Information 1995 Award in the politics category (jointly with Llew Smith MP). He is currently a member of Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates and the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change’s Geological Disposal Implementation Board (for high-level radioactive waste).

4. Prof Andy Blowers, Emeritus Professor, The Open University, Member of Committee on Radioactive Waste Management

Andrew Blowers is Professor Emeritus in Social Sciences at the Open University. He has held Visiting Professorships at the Australian National University and at the University of Nijmegen in The Netherlands. He is author of many books and papers on environmental politics, policy and planning including, The Limits of Power, Something in the Air, The International Politics of Nuclear Power and Planning for a Sustainable Environment. In a long career at the OU he chaired several interdisciplinary courses producing a series of books including a series of three on Environment, three on Environmental Policy in and International Context and one on Earth in Crisis, A Warming World.  

He specialises in the politics of radioactive waste and was a member of two government Committees:  the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee (RWMAC)(1991-2003); and the first Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM(2003-2007). At CoRWM he developed the policy of voluntarism which has been adopted in the search for sites for deep geological disposal. He was the government appointed non-executive member of the Board of the nuclear waste management company, Nirex, from 2000-2004. A County Councillor in Bedfordshire for nearly three decades, he was a leading figure in the successful campaign against the proposals for low-level nuclear waste repositories in eastern England during the 1980s. He was Chair of the Bedford NHS Hospital Trust from 1997-2001.

At the international level, Andrew Blowers has undertaken research into nuclear policy and the political geography of nuclear communities in a number of countries, notably, France, Germany and the United States.  Andrew Blowers is a former Vice Chair of the Town and Country Planning Association and he has taught on and written about planning theory and the politics of local planning policy, for example, The Limits of Power.

In 2008 Andrew Blowers set up and now chairs the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) which opposes nuclear new build at Bradwell in Essex. He is also a member of the Nuclear Consultation Group and the Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates. He is co-Chair of the Department of Energy and climate change/NGO Forum and a member of the Stakeholder Reference Group. He is a Fellow of the RSA and Hon. D.Litt. In 2000 he was awarded the OBE for services to environmental protection.

5. Dr Phil Johnstone, Research Fellow, SPRU Science and Technology Policy Research

Phil is currently a Research Fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), the University of Sussex. He is currently working with Andy Stirling and Frank Geels on the Governance of Discontinuity in Technological Systems project, focused on the case of nuclear power. Prior to this, Phil was a research fellow at the University of Exeter, where he also completed his PhD on the democratic implications of the UK’s nuclear new build policy.

6. Dr Keith Baker, Lecturer in Politics, Department of Social Sciences, Northumbria University

Keith Baker is a lecturer in politics at Northumbria University. Keith’s research focuses on the state-centric governance of complex networks and energy policy.

Prior to his appointment at Northumbria University, Keith was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Southampton.

7. Prof Gordon MacKerron, Director of SPRU – Science and Technology Policy Research, School of Business, Management and Economics

Gordon MacKerron has been Director, SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research), University of Sussex since 2008.  He was for four years Associate Director, NERA Economic Consulting, London and an earlier career for over 20 years at SPRU.  An economist specialising in energy and environmental economics and energy policy, his academic career has specialized in the economics and policy issues of electricity and especially nuclear power, as well as energy policy, including climate change mitigation and energy security.  He has published and broadcast widely on these subjects.  He has frequently been Specialist Adviser or invited witness before Select Committee inquiries on energy subjects.    Professor MacKerron worked in 2001 in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit in a team that produced the Energy Review in 2002.  He has served on three Royal Society working parties (on plutonium, geo-engineering and the nuclear fuel cycle).  From December 2003 until August 2007 he was the Chair of the UK Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, and was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution until its demise in 2011.

8. Dr Wouter Poortinga, Reader, Agricultural Sciences Group, Cardiff University

Wouter Poortinga is a Reader in Environmental Psychology at the Welsh School of Architecture and the School of Psychology, Cardiff University. His research interests are in sustainability and environmental behaviour, and published extensively on the topics of environmental risk perception and trust in risk regulation. His work on public perceptions of climate change and energy futures focused specifically on public responses to nuclear power in the context of climate change and energy security. In 2012 he was awarded a JSPS Invitation Fellowship to compare public perceptions of nuclear power in the UK and Japan following the Fukushima accident. He recently conducted a comprehensive UKERC-funded British survey on public attitudes to nuclear power, which was coordinated with a similar survey in Japan.

9. Dr David Toke, Reader in Energy Politics, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Aberdeen

David Toke is reader in Energy Politics in the department of Politics and International Relations of the University of Aberdeen. He has published over 40 papers in refereed journals, mainly on energy related topics, including widely cited papers in journals such as Energy Policy, Environmental Politics, Public Administration and Geoforum. He has also published three single-authored books on energy politics and policy, and many reports for NGOs. He continues to be a leading advocate for effective policies to promote renewable energy, and critical of the Government’s policies on nuclear power, as can be seen from his ‘green energy blog ‘, at  He has been active in the debate leading up to the UK Government’s ‘Electricity Market Reform’. He has advised and recently produced publications with environmental and green NGOs.  Friends of the Earth published his report ‘A Proven Solution: How to Grow Renewables with a Fixed Feed-in Tariff’ at the end of 2012.  See

10. Alastair Evans, Communications Officer, Nuclear Industry Association

Alastair Evans joined the Nuclear Industry Association in May 2011. Prior to this he worked for a public affairs consultancy. In this position he advised on lobbying, and campaigning for a range of clients, and ran 2 All Party Groups. He is active in politics and assisted in researching and drafting policy on work and pensions which was used in a party manifesto in the 2010 General Election. As Communications Officer he is responsible for all aspects of NIA Public Relations including our quarterly magazine Industry Link, communication updates to membership and public audiences, along with project specific work on a variety of industry related topics. Alastair is also the NIA representative on our Decommissioning, Quality and External Relations Working Groups. Alastair is a graduate of Reading University, having studied for an LLB. He then moved to London in order to study for the Bar Vocational Course and is a member of Lincoln’s Inn.

(Blog posts: “What does quality mean to you?”, “Positives of Party Conferences”, “Hunterston B opens its doors to the public” and “Business, Academics, Think Tanks: Making the Case”