Mixed reactions to Hinkley Point delay

There have been mixed reactions to the government’s announcement to delay the Hinkley Point decision. Newly appointed Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark unexpectedly postponed the final decision to autumn following […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

There have been mixed reactions to the government’s announcement to delay the Hinkley Point decision.

Newly appointed Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark unexpectedly postponed the final decision to autumn following EDF’s board giving the green light for the £18 billion project in Somerset.

Last year the UK Government pledged £2 billion of investment for Hinkley Point while a Chinese firm said it would invest £6 billion.

Former Energy Secretary Ed Davey, who initially struck the deal with EDF for the project told ELN: “It’s a bizarre approach to post-Brexit economic management – delay a much-needed infrastructure project, put Britain’s energy security at risk and profoundly irritate Paris and Beijing. It’s clear but alarming that Number 10 doesn’t understand the project, the contract or the numbers.”

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, is optimistic about the future of the project.

He said: “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.”

He suggests ministers should quickly endorse the decision to show they are serious about securing inward investment to create our low carbon energy supplies of the future.

Jonathan Marshall, an Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, sees the delay as “useful breathing space” to calmly reconsider the project. He said: “The latest delay in the Hinkley saga, although untimely, is sensible. The review gives Greg Clark and Theresa May time to take a pragmatic, considered look at the Hinkley project, assess if it is actually needed, whether it can be delivered on time and question the value offered to UK billpayers.”

Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General believes the UK is facing a major investment challenge to ensure a secure, low carbon and affordable energy supply so needs clear and timely decisions to show the UK is well and truly open for business.

John Sauven, Greenpeace Executive Director said the project is a “radioactive white elephant” that Prime Minister Theresa May needs to “stop in its tracks”.

He added: “She should look at the evidence and see that this deal would be a monumental disaster for taxpayers and billpayers. The UK needs to invest in safe, reliable renewable power. We don’t want to be left behind and locked into an old fashioned nuclear power plant that isn’t working anywhere in the world and isn’t fit for the 21st century.”

Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth campaigner, was also dismissive of the project.

He said: “The government’s brake on Hinkley C is an opportunity to do the right and popular thing and end support for Hinkley. Margaret Thatcher cancelled the nuclear build programmes in the early 1990s because the economics were dreadful.

“Hopefully Theresa May is about to do the same and prevent hard-pressed energy bill payers being saddled with unnecessary cost well into the future. Renewables and energy storage are a much better deal. With prices tumbling and speedy construction we can press on with generating masses of home-grown energy.”

Here’s a look back at our visit to Hinkley in 2011.