Hinkley Point C: One Step Forward One Step Back

VIP buffet 'on hold'
VIP buffet ‘on hold’

No sooner had the EDF’s Board of Directors made  their announcement that they would be going ahead with the much heralded Hinkley C project and the PR department were putting the hospitality marquees up on site for the many VIP guests, than suddenly a UK Government announcement delayed the decision sending the  press corps packing, the VIPs back to where they came from and the tent doors flapping in the wind.  What on earth is going on now?

An EDF statement said “Following this decision, the conditions have been met to allow EDF to sign the contracts with the British Government, EDF’s historic partner China General Nuclear Power Generation (CGN), and the main suppliers of the project. The HPC Project is a major element of the Group’s CAP 2030 strategy. The two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point will strengthen EDF’s presence in Britain, a country where its subsidiary EDF Energy already operates 15 nuclear reactors and is the largest electricity supplier by volume. “

“HPC will also enable the Group to mobilise all its significant nuclear engineering skills following the final investment decision. The first concrete of reactor 1 of HPC, scheduled for mid-2019, will coincide with perfect continuity with the start-up of the EPR at Flamanville, scheduled for the end of 2018. HPC is a unique asset for French and British industries as it will benefit the whole of the nuclear sectors in both countries and will support employment at major companies and smaller enterprises in the industry. “

Mixed Messages add to uncertainty

Sedgemoor Tory Leader Duncan McGinty "pleased that this Final Investment Decision has finally been made "
Sedgemoor Tory Leader Duncan McGinty “pleased that this Final Investment Decision has finally been made “

Sadly this confident statement belied the fact that the vote amongst the board of EDF directors was only 10-7 in favour, with French Union reps opposing it and one member resigning.

Local politicians were however quick to talk up the need for Hinkley in the Somerset economy,

Councillor Duncan McGinty, Tory Leader of Sedgemoor District Council said “We are so pleased that this Final Investment Decision has finally been made by the Board of EDF Energy in France. Sedgemoor District Council is ‘Hinkley-ready’ and have staff in place to support and implement the project to maximise benefit to local people and businesses as well as minimise impacts. This decision now gives the whole project certainty and we can get on with all the plans that we have been working on for the past eight years.  We welcome this long-awaited announcement which represents the green light for Hinkley Point C which will be the UK’s largest engineering and construction project in modern times. Sedgemoor District Council, together with partners, will continue working towards maximising local benefits but being mindful of the mitigating measures that will be required.”

Sadly, that ‘certainty’ was short lived and the ‘green light’ suddenly flickered to amber

‘Government Energy Strategy in confusion’ says Labour Leader

Government Energy Strategy in confusion" Cllr Mick Lerry leader SDC Labour group
Government Energy Strategy in confusion” Cllr Mick Lerry leader SDC Labour group

Sedgemoor Labour Leader, Cllr Mick Lerry, was quick to say he believed the Government’s Energy Strategy was in Confusion “EDF agree to final investment decision for Hinkley C and the British Government says: “not too sure now”. The Government Energy Strategy has been thrown into confusion, and you know this when Ian Liddell-Grainger MP refers to Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer as Steven on the television. Lisa Nandy MP, the former Labour Shadow Secretary for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, referred the Hinkley C deal to Public Accounts Committee, due to the cost of the HPC project. At that time the Government were quite happy to proceed with the project.”

Local working people, businesses, colleges and the community at large must feel really confused and believe that the present Government has not got a clear energy strategy for the future. Phillip Hammond MP gave a clear indication that he supported the Hinkley C project, the Prime Minister has recently been in discussion with the French President.  The British Economy is now in the post Brexit slow down and the Government has now decided to review the Hinkley C deal.”

“As the country closes down the carbon producing energy generators the next phase of low carbon energy production has been placed on hold, along with the local Bridgwater and West Somerset MP, who is unable to explain the delay.”

“When you ask a company to take on all the risks for the construction of a New Nuclear Power station, along with all the infrastructure and mitigation costs, then the strike price of £92.50 per megawatts will be expensive to other energy costs. It appears that the Government has now realized that this is the case and what appeared to be the final investment decision for the project is still on hold. “

‘Town not likely to reject the benefits’

"Town needs a clearer message" Bridgwater Town Council Labour Leader Brian Smedley "Labour needs to lead a campaign to ensure Britain’s continued place in Europe "
“Town needs a clearer message” Bridgwater Town Council Labour Leader Brian Smedley  

Labour Leader of Bridgwater Town Council Cllr Brian Smedley said “With Hinkley it’s one step forward and one step back. Politicians and shareholders are sending mixed messages and I guess we could do with a bit more certainty here. Whether you support nuclear or not the outcome will mean Bridgwater is a boom town for a period and we’re not likely to reject any benefits that come our way as a result.”

Bridgwater Town Council’s energy spokesman Cllr Leigh Redman made the case for why Bridgwater needs clarity on Hinkley. “Now that the EDFe board have made the final investment decision (FID) to go ahead with Hinkley C the communities around Bridgwater can get on with preparing for the influx of traffic and workers, this project is the biggest national infrastructure development this country has seen, for more than 6 years I have been working along with other councillors on the implementation plans that have already been made, we are going to see massive change over the next few months, more road works as the golden triangle (Matalan-Volunteer arms-Wicks) junctions all have traffic remodelling work programmed, the starting of the accommodation blocks in the old Cellophane site will see 1000 workers housed in temporary buildings, lorries and busses will increase the movement of workers and materials heading to & from the site, for months people have been waiting for FID. “

Cllr Leigh Redman “local representatives will be fighting hard for the best and sensible implementation of the program”

“Now after a few false starts your local representatives will be fighting hard for the best and sensible implementation of the program, at the same time millions of pounds will be released for mitigation where needed, you should take time to understand what will be happening and how if appropriate your community can benefit from mitigation, this can be through the sports fund in place to provide local resources, or the accommodation fund in place to support possible increase in private landlord rents & reduced availability of bed space, and include a transport fund to repair HPC damage or reduce noise impact on homes.”

“We have to generally accept and welcome the FID, the financial benefit for Bridgwater has to be acknowledged, now the build has been confirmed we can start monitoring and reporting concerns that may arise, HPC should be welcomed for the good it will bring our town, but we should be compensated where necessary for inconvenience or negative impact, I call on HPC to remember the small person and go that extra mile to support those that need it.”

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