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Title: UK power networks : the political discourse of British nuclear power
Author: Walker, Graham
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2014
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The 2003 energy white paper was widely considered to have signalled the end of new nuclear power stations in the UK. Yet only three years later, new nuclear power seemed so inevitable that Greenpeace took the British government to court over its !,; consultation process. Using political discourse theory, this thesis explores how such an apparent reversal of policy could take place by examining the discourses surrounding policy decisions over electricity generation generally and nuclear power in particular. After first setting out political discourse theory and justifying its use over other approaches to policy analysis in this case, the history of nuclear power in the UK is examined. This allows exploration of the meanings that have been attached to nuclear power in governmental circles, from its status as a national success story to its abandonment after privatisation. Nuclear is traced from its politically untouchable beginnings in military research, through the technological optimism of the 1960s, to the economic disasters of the 1970s and the effect of green opposition of the 1980s. This provides the background against which the 2003 decision against nuclear is examined. It is argued that although this white paper goes against nuclear and nominally in favour of renewables, there was little governmental enthusiasm for the proposals, primarily due to the radical changes to British lifestyles and energy provision needed to enact them. They are adopted in the absence of alternatives. The lobbying activity of a key pro-nuclear group, Supporters of Nuclear Energy, directly following this white paper is then examined. It is shown how this group specifically adopted a public relations strategy aimed at portraying nuclear power in ecological modernist terms, by following the 2003 white paper in reducing the concept of sustainability to the problem of climate change alone whilst depoliticising electricity demand. It is argued that this successfully set a discursive context in which nuclear power could once again be adopted. The informal relationship between Supporters of Nuclear Energy and government figures problematises conceptualisations of the state and its role in policy making in network governance theory, which are resolved through reference to the work of Antonio Gramsci and Timothy Mitchell.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available