The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is in broad support with the scathing criticism made by The Times newspaper in its editorial on the Hinkley Point C new nuclear project and wider UK energy policy.
The Times editorial notes that the economics making nuclear power genuinely affordable has reduced from ‘slim to vanishing’ (1) It notes that UK politicians tend to rely on civil servants for energy advice but in this case it is clear the technological challenges with new nuclear in comparison to the relative ease of developing renewable energy projects have moved much faster. The long-term costs of Hinkley represent a quintupling of power prices compared to other energy sources, particularly renewables.
It sees Hinkley Point C as a ‘white elephant’ and is critical that no government minister had the courage to cancel the project when it was possible to do so, thus exposing taxpayers to a compensation claim as high as £22 billion if the government was to pull the plug on the project later on, as a report by the National Audit Office notes. (2)
This week reports are coming out that an EDF review of the project now sees it not being finally constructed until 2027 (rather than 2025 – let’s remember EDF UK Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz said in 2007 it would be operating by the end of 2017) and its construction cost is likely to go up again from £18bn to over £20bn. (3)
Added to that are reports in France that the lid of the reactor pressure vessel on the proposed Flamanville new nuclear reactor site – identical to that being planned for Hinkley Point – may only be able to last for a few years, rather than the 40 – 60 year operation of a new nuclear reactor. For a year now the French nuclear regulator has been considering the safety of the Flamanville reactor, putting at risk the entire project. (4)
NFLA agrees with The Times in its Editorial’s concluding statement that: “(Energy Minister) Mr Clark’s department set four tests that the deal agreed last year was supposed to meet. It was to give investors a fair return, be cost-competitive with other options, reduce the overall cost of the nation’s power system and be affordable for consumers. Hinkley Point C passes the first test but manifestly fails the last three. The government must adapt faster to an energy environment that has changed beyond recognition since this misbegotten project was first mooted.”
NFLA calls once again for a radical rethink of energy policy. There should be increased support for renewable energy that was cut back so badly last year. In addition, support should be provided to local authorities and community energy groups in their very positive involvement in delivering a decentralised energy policy.
NFLA Steering Committee Vice-Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“The comments of The Times today mirrors similar views across the board that the Hinkley Point C project is overly expensive, probably unworkable and not good value for money. I urge the new government to take heed of such criticism and reset UK energy policy in favour of renewable and decentralised energy. New nuclear is not the answer to our future energy needs.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) The Times Editorial, 28th June 2017 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/nuclear-options-n9b7sc5bq
(2) National Audit Office media release and report on Hinkley Point C, 23rd June 2017 http://www.nao.org.uk/reports/hinkley-point-c
(3) The Times, 27th June 2017 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/hinkley-point-will-be-years-late-and-hugely-over-budget-ddbwztn35
(4) Reuters, 26th June 2017 http://uk.reuters.com/article/edf-flamanville-nuclear-idUKL8N1JN2OC