Stop Hinkley Press Release

8th January 2008

Anger at Cabinet nuclear decision

Stop Hinkley campaigners have responded with anger at today's Cabinet decision to support a new generation of nuclear power stations, in advance of the expected announcement of the Energy white Paper and Nuclear Bill on Thursday lunch-time.

But the local group poses the question -Just what's new in the government's pledge? Margaret Thatcher made the similar announcement, shortly after taking office, that ten new reactors would be built. Fifteen years later only one reactor had been built at nearly double the original cost. There has been nothing to prevent utility companies building nuclear power plants but none have done so due to the overwhelming economic difficulties. And the Government is still promising that no public subsidies will go to supporting the project.

In a Guardian article [3] the Government was said to have agreed to hike electricity prices to pay for a nuclear decommissioning fund despite Gordon Brown having said the industry must pay these costs itself. Current nuclear 'legacy' decommissioning costs run at £70 billion despite freezes on Hinkley and Berkeley clean-up operations. British Energy decommissioning costs payable by the taxpayer are £5.2 billion. Many expect that the Government will work around its earlier promises in order to guarantee subsidies to the industry.

A new report published today points out that the Government's case for new nuclear build does not hold water. Tom Burke CBE, of Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G) makes the following insights:

  • Even if an order were placed today there would be no new nuclear electricity before 2020, therefore not helping with the forecast energy gap. The Government's own nuclear consultation admitted that even with its accelerated regulatory procedures it would be eight years before construction could start followed by an optimistically assumed five year construction period.

  • Predicted oil and gas shortages cannot be replaced with electricity as they contribute mostly to space heating and transport.

  • Nuclear new build will not help with climate change and will divert capital and scarce skills away from investments in the carbon neutral coal technologies, renewables and energy efficiency that will reduce our carbon footprint faster and more cheaply than nuclear.

  • The global nuclear renaissance is only in the headlines. The build rate for new nuclear power stations around the world has been 1 GigaWatts per year since 2000. To replace existing reactors means building 14 GW per year for the next 23 years although there are major constraints such as only two foundries existing to build reactor pressure vessels and a six-year waiting list for reactor coolant pumps.

Jim Duffy, spokesman for Stop Hinkley said: "A Hinkley C cannot be built before 2020, even with new undemocratic planning laws, so how can it help the energy gap expected by 2015? Nor would it help with climate change as the Government predicted a whole fleet of reactors would save just four per cent of our carbon emissions. The difficult decision Gordon Brown is forcing on us is also the wrong one."

"It's especially galling as local families will be contemplating the risks to their safety and health brought about by this unnecessary technology. Clean renewables and energy conservation driven by a committed Government are a better, quicker and cheaper answer."

Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator, 07968 974805

 

 

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Notes:

1. A group of campaigners will be available for interviews and photos near Hinkley Point on Thursday at 12.30pm to coincide with the Government announcement on nuclear power. Call Jim for details - also Charlie Graham, Stop Hinkley campaigner on 07811 220269.

2. Click here for pdf Decoding Nuclear Nonsense, A reader's guide to the Government's announcement on the future of nuclear power in Britain . Tom Burke CBE, Director of Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G). He will be speaking on tonight's BBC Newsnight.

3. Click here for Guardian article claiming electricity bills will be hiked to pay for a nuclear decommissioning fund (denied by the Government):

 

 

 

 

 

Page Updated 09-Jan-2008