Angus MacNeil (Stornoway MP), Chairman of the Energy Committee in the Westminster Parliament, made the call after EDF – which already owns eight nuclear plants in Scotland and England – ask its owner, the French government, for more money for the £18 billion project.
MacNeil said: “It’s something that has to be looked into very carefully and very soon because it is a huge obligation and a lot of eggs in quite small baskets,” he said.
“The Chinese are involved, the French involved, the UK are involved. They need to take a step back because other places have decided not to go ahead with this stuff.”
Nuclear power is a key element in the Conservative government’s UK energy policy because of its high-volume, low-carbon electricity generating capacity.
But last night, Amber Rudd, the British Energy minister, robustly defended the government’s commitment to Hinkley Point-C.
She said: “There are five key reasons why we are backing Hinkley Point C, as part of our plan to tackle a legacy of under-investment in the UK’s energy infrastructure and build a system fit for the 21st century. These are:
- New nuclear is the only proven low carbon technology that can provide continuous power, irrespective of whether the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, giving hardworking families and businesses year-round energy security.
- Hinkley will give a boost to our energy supply and our economy, bringing in billions of pounds of investment into the UK and creating 25,000 jobs during construction. This is about British security and British jobs.
- Hinkley will power close to six million homes, twice as many as the whole of London, for nearly 60 years, providing 7% of UK electricity. There is no question that new-nuclear is cost competitive. Offshore wind cleared at over £110 / MWh in the last auction for renewables. New gas could cost around £65 / MWh and new-nuclear has all the advantages of providing low carbon, baseload power for decades. In addition, we’re getting 60 years of power from Hinkley but we’re only paying for 35.
- Hinkley will be safe. It will need to comply with the UK’s robust nuclear regulations (overseen by the independent Office for Nuclear Regulation) – one of the most stringent and safest in the world.
- Hinkley will be a significant step forward in our transition to a low-carbon future, a milestone in our efforts to reduce emissions and to meet our climate change commitments in the most cost-effective way.