The Nuclear Option

Hinkley Point is a bad deal for Britain. Investment should focus on renewable and strategic nuclear projects, as well as smarter use of energy. 

Cynics might think the green light for Hinkley Point C, a new nuclear power station partly financed by China, has something to do with Mrs May being forced to sit on the naughty step at the G20 summit in China. After numerous delays, and a pause in the approval of the project in July, construction of the project was finally given the all clear on September 15th. Concerns that circulated around British security in stake in what it considers ‘critical infrastructure’, lead to new safeguards on the project being constructed by Électricité de France (EDF), a French state-owned firm, (using £6 billion in Chinese money). Britain now has a share in all future nuclear projects, and a promise to change it’s approach to control of critical infrastructure. EDF also cannot pull out of the project before completion without British consent. In doing this, Mrs May has likely eased tensions with China – a cash pot of future investments – and France; who she needs to appease to make looming Brexit negotiations easier. Continue reading

School’s Out

Grammar schools aren’t the way to better schools.

Theresa May’s ascension to the highest office in the land has gotten many optimistic that new grammar schools are just on the horizon. Ms May, after all, backed plans to expand the grammar school within her own constituency, and supported parents having more choice of academically selective schools.

The debate surrounding the existence and expansion of grammar schools has been a hallmark of Education Secretaries since the 1960s, despite moves by governments to close these institutions. Lady Thatcher oversaw more grammar school closures than Labour’s Tony Crosland. Tony Blair’s best attempts to draw a line under the issue in 1998, with a compromise of allowing the maintenance of existing grammar schools but preventing the creation of new ones, has done little to silence the debate surrounding their reintroduction; a debate made all the more pressing by a grammar school in Tonbridge, Kent opening up an annexe ten miles away in October 2015. Many current grammar school are already expanding their intakes, and the decision at Tonbridge may encourage other satellites by existing grammar schools. The move may be a popular one. 51% of British adults support the idea of allowing new grammar schools to open, according to polling company ComRes. Continue reading

Ready For Takeoff

The government should foster the successes of the British Space Industry

On a cold March weekend, industry leaders, scientists and space enthusiasts gathered in the city of Sheffield for the annual National Student Space Conference (NSSC) being held in the University’s walls. Industry was keen to showcase the cutting edge technology British industry is spearheading with slick presentations to woo space minded undergraduates, while researchers excitedly discussed bold new missions Britain is playing a part in. Continue reading

Panda-ing To The Crowd

Why conservation efforts focus on a select few species

Presently, 23,000 species are at risk of extinction at mankind’s hands, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. While Earth is no stranger to vanishing wildlife, humans aren’t indifferent to the havoc they cause. Conservation tries to correct our mis-steppings as planetary stewards, but although conservationists will argue all species are equal in their eyes, closer inspection reveals some are more equal than others.

Continue reading

Corbyn’s Labour: Science and Environment

Jeremy Corbyn’s scientific ideas were presented to Scientists for Labour, and can be read here.

I had high hopes going into it, Corbyn was part of the Science is Vital campaign to reverse cuts to the science budget.

However, the policy response is a bit of a mixed bag. It covers a lot of topics which don’t necessarily belong in a science plan in my opinion (such as a housing shortage), and that markets were too focused on short termism and derivative fiddling than in investments in science and industry. Continue reading