Stop Hinkley Press Release

Government needs European co-operation on carbon to pay for nuclear

9 July 2006

Early signals about the Government Energy Review suggest that it will not subsidise nuclear new build but will try and jig the electricity market in its favour by putting up the price of carbon-emitting generators. One analyst has said this carries much future uncertainty, which may not attract city investors to the industry.

According to the Observer, the Government favours building six nuclear reactors of 1.6 megawatts each but will not put Treasury money into the project. Instead it will hope that carbon taxes will stabilise across Europe, to provide an incentive to the low-carbon emitting technology. But recent policy changes for example in Germany make the Government's hopes look forlorn.

More help to the ailing industry will come in the form of pre-licensing of generic reactors and a streamlined planning process. Pre-licensing would slice the UK nuclear safety regulators out of the process of establishing the safety of new reactor designs, effectively preventing them from requiring safety modifications and improvements once the US, French or Japanese reactor designs have been licensed in their own countries. The new process would also stifle debate within the UK scientific and engineering communities on the designs as little technical information would become publicly available.

A High Court judge will be appointed to cut down the time taken by planning inquiries.

Jim Duffy from Stop Hinkley said: "There seems to be a sense that all EU countries will have to lean on their carbon-polluting industries to create the economic conditions to allow Tony Blair to build six new nuclear power stations. It's like the sixties pipe dream that nuclear electricity would be too cheap to meter. Nuclear power is extremely expensive and these manoeuvres do not look likely to work."

"Meanwhile the taxpayer will not trump up to subsidise the moribund industry while investors are likely to pull out their shares as British Energy reactors like Hinkley 'B' look set to shut down imminently or cause bankruptcy through frequent outages to check the increased cracking in reactor cores."

"The Government should go back to its 2003 Energy Review findings, which were less influenced by Downing Street and put forward by unfettered energy experts and economists who came out in favour of an intense push on energy conservation coupled with renewable energy."

Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley, 07968 974 805

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