Re: Cloud cuckoo land thinking...
"Call me cynical"
Okay, you're cynical.
"but why on earth would I believe an energy sector player when they tell me they are going to close gas plants by 2016?"
Because they are being told to produce less electricity from the plant, while the cost to maintain it isn't changing. If the plant's revenue drops below the cost to maintain and run it, then who pays the difference? What business on this planet would operate at such a sustained loss? That's why I'd believe the energy sector: That's what they're saying will happen, and why they will close down the generators rather than run them at a loss.
"The idea that the UK is the only country which obeys EU legislation"
No, there are others, but we are the only major player in the EU that pays more than lip service to EU law. Prime example is France, and how they conveniently forget to pay all the fines that have been levied against them. Go look it up sometime - France could bail out the rest of the EU if it ever did pay up what it owes (no chance of that, though).
"Nuclear power - great (i'm massively in favour), but how much? Those championing nuclear as a solution clearly don't have much handle on the total costs - renewable subsidies have nothing on decommissioning costs."
The cost to commission and decommission a nuclear plant is factored in and spread out over the expected lifespan of the generator. This is then balanced against the output and is used to calculate the cost of energy production from the plant. To simplify things, the 'bottom line' tends to be used, which indicates the cost of electricity from a nuclear plant is less than from wind turbines per KWh.
Wind turbines have a cost to decommission. The cost is to remove the turbine and dispose of the materials used. It's either that or they will simply be abandonned at the end of their life. I've seen nothing to confirm or deny that this cost is covered the same way as with nuclear, but again the costs is simplified into per KWh costs over the expected lifespan of the wind turbine.
"Green taxes - ... and what are those taxes used for ie supporting the poorest and energy efficiency measures".
The 'Green tax' refers to the amount we pay to subsidise wind turbines and other green energy production such as solar and tidal. This has a larger impact on industry that has to buy 'carbon certificates' to show they're 'green' (this is why you see claims of 'we use 30% renewable power' from companies - they have no idea where the electricity is comming from, but they've got carbon certificates** to cover 30% of their power consumption, so that's okay*). Over all, we, the consumer, pay more as costs rise to cover those certificates, as well as the direct cost to us of electricity.
*There is an exception: Some companies have installed solar pannels and wind turbine on their buildings to generate power locally. This increases maintenance costs of the building, but decreases electricity costs and generates the carbon certificates for the company rather than them having to buy said certificates from wind farms and other renewable power suppliers.
**Some would argue this is what renewable energy companies are there for. Any power they produce is just a byproduct.