UK Government delays decision on Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, despite EDF backing
EDF energy approves the £18bn project before UK Government announces review
Nuclear power plant - credit: Fotolia
The UK Government has delayed its decision on the controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, despite its French owner EDF giving the project the go-ahead.
French energy company EDF energy approved the £18bn project yesterday, before the UK Government then announced a review into the plant, which will report in the autumn.
Justin Bowden, the GMB union's national secretary for energy, described the decision to launch a review as “bewildering and bonkers”, while Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon warned the cost of the project meant there is a “significant risk” it will never be completed.
But EDF Group chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy said he expected Theresa May’s Government to come down in favour of the project, saying he had “no doubt about the support of the British government led by Mrs May".
Announcing the decision to delay its decision on Hinkley, UK Government Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK needs a reliable and secure energy supply and the government believes that nuclear energy is an important part of the mix.
“The government will now consider carefully all the component parts of this project and make its decision in the early autumn.”
But Dixon questioned the logic of the plans.
He said: “The Tories' ideological fixation with nuclear has blinded them to the eye-watering cost of this project and the significant risk that it will never be completed.
“The same level of investment could make the UK super efficient and deliver far more electricity from a range of renewables. Hinkley doesn’t make sense on economic or environmental grounds.
“EDF’s other two reactor projects are years behind schedule and many times over budget, there is little evidence that the project at Hinkley will be any more successful.”
Bowden said: “After years of procrastination, what is required is decisive action not dithering and more delay.
“This unnecessary hesitation is putting finance for the project in doubt and 25,000 new jobs at risk immediately after Brexit.
“It is a gross error of judgment and must be reversed.”
EDF is financing most of the project, which will be the first new nuclear plant in the UK in 20 years, while a third is owned by China General Nuclear (CGN).
But a report from the National Audit Office warned the project could cost British energy consumers £30bn in “top-up payments” over its lifetime.
Its report said: “Supporting early new nuclear projects could lead to higher costs in the short term than continuing to support wind and solar. The cost competitiveness of nuclear power is weakening as wind and solar become more established.”
Greener UK chair Shaun Spiers said: “There is now a real danger that the UK will leave the EU without a deal or consciously pivot towards countries with lower environmental standards.”
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