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Hinkley Point: Energy giant says MPs must resist anti-French attitude

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

Hinkley Point, near Bridgwater

Hinkley Point, near Bridgwater

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Ministers have been told they must decide if they really want new nuclear reactors in Britain – as the head of EDF accused an MP of jingoism.

The clash came at a lively evidence session of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee’s inquiry into the challenges for building new nuclear.

Hinkley Point in Somerset has been earmarked for the first new nuclear power station in a generation, with Oldbury in Gloucestershire also a possible site.

Supporters of Nuclear Energy (Sone), a group of 300 individuals who promote nuclear, claim the Government’s policy “represents a substantial degree of risk”.

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The group’s secretary is Sir Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher’s former spin doctor, with millionaire businessman Sir William McAlpine, the chairman.

They told MPs: “One thing has been consistently missing from the energy scene so far: a clear indication as to whether the Government really does want nuclear power to be developed in the UK.”

Sone accuses ministers of omitting to argue the case for nuclear power in any noticeable way. It concludes: “A complete overhaul of energy policy is required to make nuclear power the spearhead of a drive to obtain genuinely secure, low-carbon and affordable power generation.

“We think the greatest step forward would be for the Government to decide whether it really does want nuclear power or not and, if it does, to come out powerfully for it.”

French-owned EDF told the MPs it had begun site preparation works at Hinkley and remained fully committed to the project. But it warned continued progress on electricity market reform would be “vitally important for our final investment decision for Hinkley Point C”.

EDF – which is majority owned by the French state – is involved in discussions with coalition ministers over a guaranteed ‘strike price’ for electricity from nuclear plants.

Committee member Phillip Lee, Tory Bracknell MP, suggested the scheme looked like it was set up “to pay an annuity to the French taxpayer for the next 40 years”.

But as tempers frayed, chief executive Vincent de Rivaz told him: “You should avoid any sort of jingoism in this matter.”

He said guaranteed electricity prices were the best way to ensure investment at Hinkley was worthwhile, and meant the Government would not have to underwrite the construction costs.

Greenpeace said the Government was working on the basis ten new reactors would be built, but it was more plausible there would be four, two at Hinkley and two at Sizewell, Suffolk.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  October 26 2012, 12:34AM

    Not much of a choice - renewables limited in potential, and intermittent, coal/gas running out same as oil, coal requiring considerable emission control equipment/reduction in efficiency but gas will also get scarce/expensive in the not too distant future. Nuclear fuel/breeder cycles, using Thorium would push the consumption led economies a little further in time - but ultimately mankind will have to cut consumption/reduce population, and demand, learn to make-do with less or none.

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  • jacquib  |  October 25 2012, 2:21PM

    Have we not learnt of the dangers of Nuclear Power. What a rotten polluted country we are leaving our children.

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  • siarad2  |  October 25 2012, 11:44AM

    We have 200 years of coal buried in the ground, an independent source of energy. Why aren't we doing as Germany & building coal fired energy stations. Uranium nuclear is sooo last century why not thorium, can't runaway, can be turned on & off or modulated to cope with the vagaries of wind power sooo low in energy but a suction for cash.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 25 2012, 11:10AM

    ....and that is always assuming that Russia doesn't fall out with anybody thus cutting off supplies altogether!!!

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  • eyeopener  |  October 25 2012, 11:07AM

    If we do not have nuclear power stations we will end up buying electricity and gas from abroad at crippling rates and worse as other countries have found to their cost be in the hands of the Russians. If Russia raises its gas prices to Europe then any gas we buy from Europe will be so much dearer. This is not just about cost, but our ability to have an independent foreign policy. Replacement power stations will preserve our independence, help reduce our energy costs and avoid that ecological disaster the Severn Barrage which will destroy its unique eco system and damage tourism by interfering with the tides and preventing the Severn Bore. The Severn Bore is one of Britain's few truly spectacular natural phenomena. It is a large surge wave that can be seen in the estuary of the River Severn, where the tidal range is the 2nd highest in the world, being as much as 50 feet (approx 15.4m).

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 25 2012, 10:16AM

    Let's face facts, we need power stations because "green" energy is nowhere near a reliable solution to meet our energy needs at this present time. It doesn't matter what route we go down, we, the energy users are going to have to subsidise whatever they decide and I would rather subsidise something that I know is going to provide energy 24/7 than something that is reliant upon sun/wind/geotherm/fracking/wave/tidal etc.etc. Four new power stations (2 here in the West) or arrays of wind turbines, solar panels, fracking, tidal power, all of which will decimate our beautiful countryside, rivers, wildlife everywhere and anywhere here in the westcountry.

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