Is Trident Influencing UK Energy Policy?


What explains the UK government’s enthusiasm for nuclear power, despite its various problems – including technical difficulties and cost? Could one hidden factor be the pressure to support the infrastructure needed for military programmes such as Trident?

SPRU researcher Philip Johnstone and our co-director Andy Stirling have been researching this question, and explore their findings in a 2-part series on the Oxford Research Group’s Sustainable Security blog.

“The issue here is a widely identified ‘puzzle’ in UK energy policy – the persistent intensity of UK Government enthusiasm for what is actually in energy terms the seriously under-performing option of civil nuclear power.

Based on official defence policy documents, it seems clear that UK commitments to nuclear energy are significantly influenced by pressures to sustain the skills and expertise perceived to be necessary for the country’s naval nuclear propulsion programme. Crucially, these military connections remain almost entirely unacknowledged in energy policy literatures. The implications thus extend beyond military and energy policy alone, to raise questions about British democracy more widely.”

Read the series

Read part 1

Read part 2