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Ipswich 'ticks the boxes' for nuclear revolution

FUTURE: Could Ipswich have a nuclear power plant built by 2030? SMR Nuclear Technology chairman Robert Pritchard wants to know your views.
FUTURE: Could Ipswich have a nuclear power plant built by 2030? SMR Nuclear Technology chairman Robert Pritchard wants to know your views. ERIK S. LESSER

THE Ipswich region is well-suited to become the home of one of Australia's first nuclear reactors according to an energy executive who wants the community to lobby for its construction.

As the nation's energy future remains at the forefront of federal political discourse, SMR Nuclear Technology has reignited the nuclear debate.

Robert Pritchard serves as chairman of the board at SMR Nuclear Technology and is executive director of the Energy Policy Institute.

He is calling for communities across Australia to consider whether nuclear power could be generated in their area.

"Ipswich ticks the box.

"Places like Ipswich, Mt Isa, Broken Hill, Olympic Dam in South Australia, somewhere up in the Pilbara - there are lots of places where this makes all sorts of sense in 10 years' time."

Mr Pritchard said the station would not be built tomorrow, but called for the community to envisage the future.

"The first one that would ever operate would not operate until 2030 - you've got 13 years," he said.

"We've got the timeline mapped out as to what would happen in those 13 years but the work has to start now. Where you start is not with the technology - that's a given - you've got to start with the community support."

Mr Pritchard said there was a growing interest in nuclear generation across the community, which would be vital to its future.

"If the community doesn't want it, we're not going to have it, that's the end of the story," he said.

The energy policy executive said it was a matter of; "fly the kite and see what happens".

Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann dismissed the call.

"I don't think it's in the best interests of Ipswich to have a nuclear power plant on the banks of the Bremer River," he said.

"It's got to be renewables - solar, wind and geo-thermal energy."

He said the nation was moving away from a high-emissions-intensity economy towards a green future.

"I've come to the conclusion a long time ago, as far as I'm concerned, not for our future here," he said.

The strong opposition from the Member for Blair does not discourage Mr Pritchard, who, although encouraged politicians to keep an open mind, said it was up to the people to decide.

"I think this is going to capture the public's imagination, mainly because it's not being pushed by politicians," he said.

"We're discovering people will listen to us much more than they would listen to a politician."

Mr Neumann was "convinced" the majority of residents in Ipswich would be opposed to nuclear generation technology.

Mr Pritchard said it would take the community time to learn about nuclear power generation.

He pledged to set up a series of meetings around the country where people were expressing serious interest.

"What we want to do over the next little while is start these dialogues with community people," he said.

"You're not going to push anything down people's throats - people just won't cop that.

"The vast majority of people will be interested."

Topics:  nuclear power


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