Hinkley Point Nuclear Plant Given Go-Ahead
The building of a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset has moved a step closer after Energy Secretary Ed Davey granted the scheme planning permission.
The proposed development of Hinkley Point C by French energy company EDF is a boost for the nuclear industry following a series of setbacks in plans to construct a new fleet of reactors in the UK, which ministers say are needed to cut carbon and keep the lights on.
The deal is expected to be rubber-stamped within weeks when EDF and the Government secure agreement on decommissioning the price the company will be paid for the electricity it generates.
Mr Davey told Sky News there would be no public subsidy and the cost would be "affordable for consumers and businesses" but he refused to go into further detail as the commercially-sensitive negotiations continued.
Once up and running it is anticipated that the plant's two reactors will generate enough electricity to provide 7% of the country's needs, or power five million homes.
The minister told the Commons that affordable new nuclear would play a "crucial role" in ensuring secure, diverse supplies of energy in the UK and decarbonising the electricity sector and the economy.
He also confirmed that EDF had now secured the majority of consents it needed to build and operate the plant and that he expected to announce shortly a deal on the so-called 'strike' price.
Under electricity market reforms, low-carbon power such as nuclear reactors and offshore wind farms will have long-term contracts with a guaranteed price for their electricity, to give investors certainty to invest in projects with high capital costs.
It has been reported that the costs of the new power station would run to around £14bn and the development would create up to 25,000 jobs during construction and 900 permanent positions once in operation.
But environmental groups reacted angrily to the news and raised questions about dealing with the waste.
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven claimed Hinkley Point C failed the test on economic, consumer, environmental and arguably even legal grounds.
He said: "It will lock a generation of consumers into higher energy bills, via a strike price that's expected to be double the current price of electricity, and it will distort energy policy by displacing newer, cleaner, cheaper technologies.
"Giving it the green light when there is no credible plan for dealing with the waste could also be in breach of the law," he warned.
Friends of the Earth's policy and campaigns director Craig Bennett added: "The Alice-in-Wonderland economics of the nuclear industry killed off previous plans for a new reactor at Hinkley - decades later, little has changed.
"The only way this plant will be built is if the Government hands over a blank cheque from UK taxpayers to French developers, EDF.
"The most cost-effective way to cut carbon and keep the lights on is a combination of energy efficiency and investing in renewables, the cost of which are falling year on year.
"For decades nuclear industry has over-promised and under-delivered - we can't afford to keep throwing money at it."