The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has welcomed a Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee report on the Hinkley Point C proposed nuclear reactor development which is sharply critical of the expensive nature of the deal between the UK Government and EDF Energy. (1)
The Committee argue the 35 year contract between EDF and the Government locks the consumer into an expensive deal which will hit the poorest hardest through increases to fuel bills. The report also notes that the plans for Hinkley Point C do not provide the wider benefits such as jobs and skills much vaunted by the Government and EDF.
The report rather recommends that the UK Government:
- needs to draw up a plan to create wider economic benefits from Hinkley Point and explain how they will prove they have been achieved;
- should commission an independent assessment of its effect on consumers;
- publishes a strategic case for nuclear before any more plants are agreed;
- ensures proper cost/risk analysis of the funding options for all future big infrastructure projects;
- provides a ‘Plan B’ for the UK’s energy security if Hinkley Point runs into trouble;
- ensures thorough monitoring of Hinkley Point’s construction.
NFLA has been consistently making the case that the Hinkley Point C scheme does not provide value for money, is too complex and will generate large levels of radioactive waste that will remain on the Somerset site for at least 160 years. It is deeply concerned that the poorest people in society will be having to pay for the excess of new nuclear through higher fuel bills, as pointed out by the Committee.
Furthermore, it is also evident that EDF Energy is struggling to find the billons it requires to co-finance the Hinkley Point C development with its Chinese partners, putting at risk whether the project will even go ahead.
NFLA’s recent report on new nuclear (2) notes:
- EDF currently has a debt burden estimated at €37 billion (£34 billion);
- EDF also has to find around €50 billion for upgrading about half of its nuclear power reactors in France, plus another €55bn for decommissioning the remaining reactors, according to a report by the French Government auditor (Cour des Comptes);
- The French radioactive waste agency Andra has estimated that the cost of its deep geological disposal project could be as high as €30bn, rather than the €20bn estimated by EDF;
- EDF will need to invest in renewable energy across France to meet the French Government’s aim of reducing the share of electricity provided by nuclear power from 75% to 50%. This could lead to the closure of 17 to 20 reactors.
With such gargantuan amounts of money needed to be raised across its nuclear estate, NFLA is sceptical EDF can find as much as £14 billion to fund Hinkley Point C, without substantial support from the French Government.
NFLA Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
“The Public Accounts Committee are to be congratulated again for highlighting the huge costs of the Hinkley Point C new nuclear deal and how it is the poorest people in our society who will be affected in increased electricity bills over decades. It is arguable whether the UK needs such large developments, given a 15% decrease in electricity demand in the past decade, but it has always been clear to the NFLA what should rather be prioritised – a decentralised and renewable energy mix, with energy efficiency demand management and battery storage back-up. Most of our main economic competitors are moving down that route, it is about time the UK did and end the white elephant project that is Hinkley Point C.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, 22nd November 2017
(2) NFLA New Nuclear Monitor 49, 7th September 2017