War of words on Hinkley restart

Somerset County Gazette, 23rd November 06

HINKLEY Point B has "no restart date", according to its parent company British Energy this week, in response to criticism levelled at the plant.

The firm spoke out to deny claims made by an anti-nuclear group that it had made promises on operation expectations to "sweeten investors".

Protest group Stop Hinkley released a statement on Monday commenting on the announcement made by British Energy about when it hoped the station would be up and running again.

"There is no restart date at the moment because the inspections have not been completed," spokesman Martin Pearce told the County Gazette.

"Until we have the full inspection we can't be sure about the programme. For the 70% output it is expected for as soon as possible. We are hopeful of that from the end of January.

"The following 30% we would hope to have a programme up by March 2008. That is based on the information we have. The full information on the inspection is expected over the next few months."

Reaction from British Energy came after Jim Duffy from the Stop Hinkley group said the claimed restart dates had not been cleared by the nuclear safety inspectorate.

"British Energy wanted to sweeten their investors with a promise which they hadn't even squared with the safety regulator," he said.

"Perhaps they believe the inspectors will fall in with their finance-driven timetable but safety must come first. It's obvious what British Energy's priorities are here."

Hinkley Point B has been shut down since cracks were discovered in boiler pipes which meant the plant had to cease working for repair - although bosses stressed there was no danger to the public.
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