Business World

Sunday 19 November 2017

UK delays decision on controversial 'new Sellafield'

An aerial view of the Hinkley Point site. Photo: EDF Energy/PA Wire
An aerial view of the Hinkley Point site. Photo: EDF Energy/PA Wire

David Kearns

Plans to build the UK's first new nuclear plant in 20 years have suffered an unexpected delay after the British government postponed a final decision until the early autumn.

It's a setback for French energy giant EDF, which had voted by 10-7 this week to go ahead with the controversial €21bn power station.

A CGI image of Hinkley Point C. Photo: EDF Energy/PA Wire
A CGI image of Hinkley Point C. Photo: EDF Energy/PA Wire

If it gets the go-ahead, the plant will be located less than 244km away from the Irish coastline, equivalent to the distance from Dublin to Cork.

The Green Party has been critical of EDF and the proposed plant.

Before the British government stalled on signing off on the project, EDF released a statement saying that work on the nuclear reactor, located in Hinkley Point on the Somerset coast, would take place in mid-2019.

When completed, these reactors will generate up to 7pc of the UK's energy requirements.

"This is a major blow against renewable energy and the consumer," said Green councillor and long time anti-nuclear campaigner Mark Dearey.

"Countless experts have warned that this power station will be terrible value for money. Its strike price is €110/MWh, and that's fixed for 35 years - so people in their 20s today will be paying for this contract with their pensions."

A strike price is the guaranteed price that a buyer (in this case the UK government) agrees to pay.

"For Hinkley, this is more than twice the cost of existing wholesale electricity prices," Mr Dearey added.

"EDF is also heavily involved in renewable, but those projects are sure to lose funding now to cover the cost of this plant."

Mr Dearey, who was involved in a 12-year high court battle to end reprocessing at the Sellafield nuclear power plant in the UK, said that nuclear power, "despite having 60 years behind" it, had failed to prove its commercial viability.

"It's never been able to survive without state intervention. The UK, and Ireland, could be leading the world in renewable energy as it's a prime candidate for wave farming.

"You just need to look to Germany to see what can be done when a government is committed - it could be carbon emission-free within our lifetime."

Irish Independent

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