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Hinkley Point: Will the taxpayer fuel cost of new nuclear projects?

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 23, 2012

Hinkley Point, near Bridgwater – academics claim the Government will soon subsidise nuclear power

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A group of leading energy academics yesterday claimed the Government is considering going back on its pledge never to subsidise nuclear power.

Any policy change would effectively mean taxpayers’ money being given to French energy giant EDF to help it build a new reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset. It would also boost the chances of a new nuclear power station at Oldbury in Gloucestershire.

An open letter said: “Energy Minister John Hayes is now considering a major U-turn in energy policy by giving a blank cheque to nuclear by ‘underwriting’ construction costs over-runs.

“This is despite the fact that the key to nuclear is its spiralling cost over-runs.”

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The nine academics, including professors at Oxford, Warwick, Sussex and Birmingham universities, say two nuclear reactors are being built in Western Europe at the moment.

The letter concludes: “Whatever one’s view of the risks and benefits of nuclear energy, it is clear that construction cost over-runs are highly likely.

“The taxpayer must not end up footing a multi-billion pound bill for what seem to be inevitable nuclear construction over-runs.”

They were responding to comments by Mr Hayes earlier this month that he would look at “issues surrounding underwriting risk”.

But a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “We are in preliminary discussions with EDF and Centrica about the potential financial terms on which they might go ahead with their Hinkley Point C project.

“Our focus will be on delivering a fair deal for consumers.

“No commitments or final decisions have been made.”

Meanwhile, talks are continuing on the future of Gloucester-based Horizon, the vehicle to develop Oldbury, and Wylfa on Anglesey in North Wales.

A source close to the discussions told the Daily Press that despite a large amount of irrelevant speculation, the talks were now in the final stages and there would not be too long to wait for an announcement.

MPs will today hear the latest developments in Hinkley when the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee questions key figures from the industry.

The MPs will also quiz supporters of nuclear power including Sir Bernard Ingham, former spin doctor to Margaret Thatcher, and opponents including Richard George of Greenpeace.


Video: Anti-nuclear campaigners begin Stop Hinkley protest in Bridgwater

Photos: Stop Hinkley protest in pictures

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 23 2012, 3:23PM

    @siarad2 That sounds very "eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog" Do you possess a broomstick as well?

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  • siarad2  |  October 23 2012, 2:43PM

    I quite enjoyed the 'four day week' of the 1970s, in an hour early, only half hour lunch & a long weekend burning my candles & cooking over my fire ;-) Lots were on a 3 day week too with differing power outages.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 23 2012, 11:03AM

    Well considering we subsidise wind turbines, solar panels and every other form of "green" energy, subsidising a reliable form of energy would be a bonus. If we had, in the past, gone ahead with improving our nuclear plants and implementing the new technology as France have done, we could now be in the position of exporting some of our energy instead of importing. The sooner we get on top of this the better otherwise I can foresee "lights out" being the norm.

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  • nickthompson  |  October 23 2012, 9:52AM

    "Any policy change would effectively mean taxpayers' money being given to French energy giant EDF "-------------So what, we already pay the French for crossing THEIR Severn Bridge's,and to another French company SITA for removing our refuse,street cleansing,etc,etc,etc,etc,etc,etc,etc,etc !!

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