Long posts seem to be in fashion :(
@Chronos: A rather better informed and argued post than many, but still missing part of the picture. And we'll come back to "sod all to do with nuclear weapons" later.
You mention Wylfa on Anglesey. It's somewhere I'm familiar with (as a tourist).
Others have mentioned that nuclear (or coal, or something reliable 24x7) is needed to satisfy "base load" .
What hasn't been mentioned is the amount of "base load" demand which exists only because "cheap" base load capacity was available.
Wylfa is a 1GW station. Next door to it is an aluminium smelter which (iirc) uses about half Wylfa's output, pretty much 24x7. Without the nuclear station the smelter would not exist, because (a) the electricity would not be affordable (b) the grid does not have the capacity to supply the smelter. So when Wylfa closes, the smelter closes, AND THE BASE LOAD GOES AWAY. The smelter goes to some country closer to the raw materials, some country which still has a manufacturing industry to use the finished product, and rather than shipping aluminium ore half way round the world to the UK, a smaller amount of aluminium metal is shipped instead. Which all makes sense (unless you're employed in or around Wylfa, sadly).
Where else around the UK is there a huge "base load" which exists only because it has a "cheap" power station next door? How much does this distort the analysis? Does it matter?
"For the long term environmental damage, well, at least it can be localised (unlike greenhouse gas emissions) and managed."
A reactor blows up in Chernobyl and Welsh hill lamb is prohibited from sale as a consequence (and continued to be banned for YEARS after the incident)? Maybe the pollution wasn't as localised as you seem to think? Maybe the source of the pollution was a lot more local than Chernobyl? Trawsfynydd nuclear? Unlikely. Windscale/Sellafield, because of the hushed-up fire back in 1957 ? Now you're talking. Pre-Chernobyl, there weren't many physicists wandering the Welsh hills looking at sheep (not with Geiger counters, anyway)... how convenient.
Been on any beaches near Dounereay lately? Bit hot there, isn't it?
"We have no manufacturing industry left"
Correct. Consequently it needs no energy supply. How much energy do offices need? How many centralised offices (and the associated office power, and long commute) do we really need when a good proportion of desk workers can telecommute? If the work can be outsourced abroad, then it's likely capable of being done by someone in the same time zone with the same first language, but without a city centre/business park office desk of their own. How much energy does that save?
And thanks to everyone else who pointed out that energy saved is energy not needed to be generated.
"Sizewell will have a load average of over 90% by the end of it's operating life."
Might be that way on paper, but then that was probably said about today's nukes too, which iirc have a typical downtime of 30-40% not 10%, and sometimes lots of them are down at the same time (eg when someone discovers a common design-related flaw affecting more than one reactor). Does that change the economics and the need for diversity of supply?
"I don't live anywhere near a nuclear plant (I work in Cheshire)"
Former-BNFL sites in Cheshire include Capenhurst, Daresbury, Risley, any I've forgotten? They weren't all just offices either, there were (and are?) "nuclear plants" amongst them. Any of them near where you live or work?
Pop down the A55 and look to your right as you pass Rhyl. If you look really really really hard you'll see an offshore wind farm. More are proposed for further along the coast. It would be nice if they weren't needed and didn't spoil the view. But they are needed, and they don't spoil the view that much. Site them right and they won't harm too many birds.
Carry on to Anglesey and to Wylfa. Have a look in the visitor centre. Take a physicist with a clue with you, and together watch the video they show (including the excerpt from Casualty). It's so untrue I practically threw up. If there had been anybody there except me, there'd have been an interesting discussion. I was only there for the caff, which was fine.
Inland not far from Wylfa there are several wind farms which have now been there for a few years. I don't live near them but when I've passed by them (frequently) I've never found them troublesome or offensive. I've frequently stopped by to listen for the alleged sound effects, and haven't noticed any (they may obviously be present on other sites). The ones near Wylfa don't and won't generate enough power to run an aluminium smelter, or even (say) a hospital of any size, but hospitals could do very nicely with on-site generation using combined heat and power, and so could lots of other places. Onsite generation also gives places some independence from national supply disruption, which is only going to increase as capacity margins decrease and spending on distribution maintenance decreases.
"And the same people that are against nuke power would be against the wind turbines because 3 or 4 birds would get killed."
I'm not anti-nuclear, I'm anti-stupid, anti-liar. There are plenty of relatively safe sources of renewable energy, wind is just one of them, if we'd invested as much development money on them in the last few decades as we have on nuclear, today's picture would be different. But the allegedly civil nuclear capability hides a much darker purpose, it is really needed for the continued availability of the not so popular "independent" nuclear deterrent, as John Clarke already pointed out.
There's plenty more to say, e.g. about terrorism (the 9/11 factor), about commercial uninsurability of the nuclear industry (the insurance industry *knows* about risk), and various other things. But if you've read this far, you've read enough from me. Two more paragraphs and I'm done.
For my sins I'm a graduate physicist, member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, I've worked for many years in the safety critical computer systems sector, and with control systems suppliers to folks including the nuclear industry (and oil rigs, and...). And I've a lot of respect for James Lovelock, most of the time, though he does rather tend to get misrepresented. Anyway, the biggest "fruitcakes" I've met in and around the computer systems business, the ones least worthy of public trust, seemed to me to be the ones who were in the nuclear sector, which is a shame, because they were the ones who needed to be the *best*. But imo they weren't. Sorry guys.
The thing the nuclear industry is best at is lying. To itself, and to the public.