OPINION: ‘It is surreal that we are on the brink of war in Europe’
Security is my main focus right now, whether it’s energy security, water security, even European security, writes MP Craig Williams.
It seems surreal that as I write this column, I am not sure there will be an actual war in Eastern Europe by the time it is published.
While there is some hope of averting war given Russia’s claims that some of its troops are returning to their bases near the Ukrainian border, we have seen no hard evidence of this.
If Russia invades Ukraine, I have no doubt of the enormous impact it will have on long-term security in Europe and indeed the world. In the UK, there is clearly an urgent need to review our defense spending and our commitments to NATO.
More locally in Montgomeryshire there is the issue of water security.
Last week Russell George MS and I hosted Rebecca Pow, the UK Government’s Minister for Water. Our reservoirs in Montgomeryshire are strategic UK sites and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the UK Government for their operations.
There is a huge balancing act between protecting the country’s water supply and regulating the Severn – Britain’s longest river – with flood mitigation measures.
It’s not an easy balance, and Natural Resources Wales and the Environment Agency have a difficult task given the increasing number of unforeseen extreme weather events.
We are well placed in Montgomeryshire to play a leading role in the UK’s water supply, but we must also see the benefits locally through investment, jobs and, above all, a high flood attenuation.
Finally, to continue on the theme of security, it is energy.
Due to the neglect of long-term investments in the sector by governments of all colors over a generation, we are currently extremely vulnerable.
Although we have naturally phased out coal and continue to promote renewable options such as offshore wind and hydroelectric power, our drive towards new nuclear energy is now beginning to bear fruit.
While it is true that in the short term our energy prices will skyrocket, a major nuclear investment plan is taking shape to bring huge base power online through nuclear technology.
I am hopeful this will ensure UK energy prices remain stable over the long term.