UK Government must now make quick decision on Hinkley, says British nuclear chief

The logo of France's state-owned electricity company EDF is seen on the company tower at La Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie near Paris, France, March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

The British nuclear industry has today urged the UK government to make a quick – and affirmative – final decision to go ahead with the proposed new Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

In a move which surprised the industry, last night the British government said it needed time to think about the plan and that it would make its own final decision in the autumn – after EDF agreed to proceed with the project.

Today, Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “The Government’s decision to take longer to look at the contract does not change the fundamentals – that by 2030, two thirds of our electricity generation capacity will have retired, and we need to replace it with low carbon and reliable power for the future to improve our energy security and meet our commitments on carbon emissions targets.

 “The most important thing is that the board of EDF and its investors have the finance in place to enable them to give the go ahead for the project and that is very good news. We have a strong UK supply chain which has built up its capability and has trained people so they are able to build and operate Hinkley Point C.

 “We now need the new ministers to quickly endorse the decision to show they are serious about industrial strategy, building new infrastructure by securing inward investment to create our low carbon energy supplies of the future.”

Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary for energy, added: “Theresa May’s decision to review the go-ahead on Hinkley Point C is bewildering and bonkers.

“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 judgement and must be reversed.

“Building Hinkley will not on its own make up for successive governments’ failure to have in place a coherent energy policy, but it is a very important step along that road and, as GMB has been warning now for months, the country’s energy capacity is already so fragile that if we have a cold winter there is a high likelihood we will experience power cuts.”

Aberdeen South MP Callum McCaig – the SNP’s Energy spokesman – commented: “The UK government’s delay on the Hinkley Point nuclear project shows how wrongheaded and shambolic Tory energy policy has been.

“This may now be a chance for the new prime minister to call a halt to this massively expensive project which would have been a huge drain on taxpayers for decades to come. UK energy policy is not delivering for consumers, on energy security or the environment.
 
“At the same time Westminster continues to slash vital support for onshore wind farms and other renewable energy projects – despite the fact that wind power is more efficient, more cost-effective, and has proven economic and environmental benefits. 

“It’s vital that the UK Government now take immediate steps to ensure that Scotland’s onshore wind sector gets the support it needs and deserves to allow the industry to continue to invest in jobs, create clean energy and tackle climate change.”

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