Australian news, and some related international items

The British nightmare that is Hinkley nuclear power project

Nuclear dream becoming nightmare over Hinkley Point C By WMN_MartinF  May 13, 2016 By ALLAN JEFFERY  Some dreams come true; others turn into nightmares. Hinkley Point C nuclear power station has been a dream to many politicians. Is it about to come true?


Margaret Thatcher was one of the first to dream of building Hinkley C. It was to be the second of 10 nuclear power stations she would build, to rescue the country from the menace of those socialist, coal-dependent generators, providing most of the UK’s electricity and too often holding the country to blackout ransom.

Her dream started well! At public inquiry, at Cannington in 1988/89, despite the hundreds of people and organisations arguing against the build, the inspector gave permission to build Hinkley C.

But her dream turned sour as her privatisation of the nation’s nuclear electricity production bankrupted British Nuclear Energy. The government had to bail out the privatised company. Even worse, the world’s largest nuclear accident at Chernobyl occurred, and the radioactive pollution spread over many countries in Europe. Mrs Thatcher gave up on her nuclear dream. Nuclear was too risky and dangerous and too expensive.

The dream passed to the French government. The dream was to sell all around the world hundreds of a new-generation nuclear reactors, of French design: the EPR. Areva designed the reactor and offered the first one to a group of energy hungry companies in Finland, STK.

It would be built in four years, for 3 billion euros.The dream continued well, the French government were going to build another two EPRs in France, China said they would build two, and many other countries showed interest, even the UK.The French then sold the dream to Labour’s prime minister, Tony Blair, convincing him that building the new French-designed EPR reactors would solve all the UK’s energy problems.

A new nuclear renaissance dream started, though this time there would be no long public inquiries. New national energy policy papers would make sure there would be no planning hold-ups, and allow EDF to build the first two EPR reactors at Hinkley.

There councillors were sold on the dream promises of thousands of jobs and the huge amounts of investment spent in the local economy. EDF ploughed on as quickly as it could; delays would increase costs. Local residents would not be allowed to question the dangers of nuclear power.

The councillors started to notice the environmental problems of such a gigantic building project. Lacking the power to challenge, they started to promote it as a dream for the local economy. They encouraged local firms to prepare for the good economic future, and young people a dream future in Hinkley apprenticeships.

Problems then started to occur with the building of this untried and untested new design of reactor. First at Olkiluoto in Finland and then at Flamanville in France, construction problems multiplied, causing long delays and causing costs to double and then treble. Energy companies in Italy, America and the UK pulled out from investing in this disastrous reactor. Western banks and investment funds all started to advise their clients not to invest in Hinkley C.

They realised that the costs of renewables are falling rapidly; the costs of nuclear are rising fast.The nightmare of problems for the funding of the most expensive power station on earth continued. The UK government, lacking Western private investments, reluctantly accepted that Hinkley has to be subsidised. Whether this financing arrangement is legal under European free-market rules is being strongly challenged in the courts.

EDF cannot fund its share of the building cost of Hinkley C, even though the Chinese government is providing a third of the investment building costs. The energy company has large debts and huge cost commitments of its own.Will EDF finally agree to finance the building of Hinkley C? The growing number of problems, constructional, technical, legal, environmental and financial, of building Hinkley C are beginning to change the dream into a nightmare.

The nuclear dreams of many people will turn to disaster, whatever EDF decides on the final investment decision.If the decision is yes, France could lose its national electricity generator and the French taxpayers will rue the day they tried to follow the nuclear dream.If EDF says no, the UK’s energy policy is in tatters leaving the hopes and dreams of politicians, councillors, aspiring businesses and some British trade unions regretting the day they put all their eggs into one nuclear basket, following the Hinkley C dream.

My dreams are coming true. All around the world I see rapidly growing investment into a decentralised, renewable, truly sustainable future for our children.This is article has been abbreviated. The full version can be read at  Allan Jeffery is assistant co-ordinator at Stop Hinkley

Read more:

May 14, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: