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Fresh setback for Hinkley C nuclear power station project after Centrica pulls out

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

Hinkley Point, near Bridgwater

Hinkley Point, near Bridgwater

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The project to build a new nuclear power station on the Somerset coast took another troubling blow yesterday, with British Gas owner Centrica pulling out.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of nuclear power in Britain led to Centrica withdrawing from the Hinkley C project, with it citing the increasing anticipated project costs in new nuclear and the construction timetable extending by a number of years.

The decision has sparked renewed speculation that the majority developer, French-owned energy giant EDF may now link with Chinese state-owned nuclear company CGNPC. The twin reactor plant which EDF proposes at Hinkley Point would be the first new nuclear power station for a generation, and it is vital to the Government’s energy strategy.

EDF said yesterday the project is “shovel ready” and that momentum remains strong, but delays led the company to announce last year that is extending the life of the existing Hinkley B plant, by seven years.

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The Government has yet to announce the “strike price”, the guaranteed minimum price that companies will receive for generating nuclear power. Nuclear development costs are high and the decision is vital to attracting fresh investment. An announcement had been expected last December. Yesterday the Department for Energy and Climate Change said discussions were continuing.

The project has reactor design approval and EDF has won a nuclear site licence. A decision on planning permission is expected in March.

Analysts warn that if nuclear build falls through, electricity prices will go through the roof. Gary Hornby, energy marketing analyst with Inenco, said: “It is not the nail in the coffin, but it doesn’t help. Nuclear is going to have to be a big part of power generation or electricity prices are going to go up. If we can’t build nuclear facilities we are going to have to burn more gas and gas is the most expensive way to generate electricity.”

Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw said: “We believe that nuclear generation has a valuable role to play in a balanced UK energy mix.”

EDF Energy said it respects Centrica’s strategic decision, was prepared for it and values the expertise Centrica has brought to the project.

A spokesman for anti-nuclear group Stop Hinkley said: “This has to be one of the worst weeks for EDF since they began their Hinkley C project. Cumbria has rejected hosting an underground dump for their nuclear waste, the true public cost of storing our existing waste – £67.5 billion – has just come to light, and now Centrica has pulled out.”

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6 comments

  • Healingwaters  |  February 06 2013, 1:50PM

    Nuclear Power is never economical if you calculate the true cost of all the damage it causes both to the environment and to physical health. Starting from Uranium mining through to the end point of where to store the highly dangerous radioactive waste. I personally oppose Hinkley C construction and have created this petition. If you agree please sign and pass on. If you don't, there is a link on it where you can learn more about some of the issues associated with it. http://tinyurl.com/abx4spt

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  • 2TheBeehive  |  February 05 2013, 2:30PM

    that should be "it seems"

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  • 2TheBeehive  |  February 05 2013, 2:29PM

    Nuclear is still the only way to give us continuous power. (except this morning is seems)

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  • 2TheBeehive  |  February 05 2013, 1:47PM

    The Severn Barrage would be between seven and ten miles long, an absolutely vast structure. It would weigh more than the Great Pyramid in Egypt, which took 30 years to complete and 2,300,000 stone blocks. The barrage would take about 14 years to complete. The first draw back is the sheer cost, about £15 billion. The payback period would be long so any government that decided to build one would have to be pretty brave to invest that much cash. Wind farms and nuclear power may simply be cheaper in the short term, and nearly all governments think in the short term! The Severn Barrage plans would provide a predictable source of sustainable energy during lifetime of the scheme, 5% of the UK's output from the 10-mile version. It could continue to operate for around 120 years, compared with 30–40 years for nuclear power plants. An additional benefit would be to improve energy security. However, although power supply is predictable, peaks in generation from the barrage do not necessarily coincide with peaks in demand. Just under eight hours per day of generation time is expected. Local impact Any large-scale barrage would create leisure-friendly water conditions behind it. Flood protection would be provided by the barrage, covering the vulnerable Severn estuary from storm surges from the sea. New road and/or rail transport links could be built across a barrage if demand rises in the future, as outlined below. Any barrage could provide a boost to the local economy — construction industry in the short term, tourism and infrastructure in the long term. However, shipping would have to navigate locks, and existing estuary industries, including fisheries, would be damaged and jobs lost. All industrial discharges into the River Severn (e.g. from Avonmouth) would have to be reassessed. Environmental impact The Severn Estuary is a Special Area of Conservation due to the European importance of its ecology. The inter-tidal area provides food for over 85,000 migratory and wintering water birds, and represents 7% of the UK's total estuaries. There are nature reserves and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm.

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  • siarad2  |  February 05 2013, 12:12PM

    The Severn Barrage reputedly will generate the equivalent of four nuclear power plants, providing we work on Lunar time :-)

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  • nickthompson  |  February 05 2013, 9:49AM

    Forget Hinkley C, we of course cannot afford to build it ourselves,the government send millions of pounds of OUR tax monies abroad,Perhaps the EU could assist us from the 58 MILLION POUNDS A DAY we pay them, if not we will just have to rely on the French,or Russians for our energy needs.

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