Press Release 16 December 2010
Backdoor Subsidies Introduced to Prop Up Hinkley C
The coalition government has torn up its “no subsidy for nuclear” commitment with a series of measures aimed at financially supporting the construction of new nuclear power stations like Hinkley Point C in West Somerset, according to the Stop Hinkley campaign.
Today's announcement by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne on “electricity market reform” includes a range of mechanisms aimed at making low carbon sources of electricity more economic in comparison to polluting fossil fuels like coal and gas. But while generators of carbon-free renewable electricity will no doubt be pleased, the nuclear industry will be celebrating a successful lobbying exercise.
“Private companies like EdF have already said that they can't build nuclear power stations like Hinkley C without additional financial incentives,” said Stop Hinkley spokesman Crispin Aubrey. “These new measures are aimed at helping them make a profit from a technology that carries massive future liabilities, including dealing with dangerous radioactive waste at Hinkley for up to 160 years. Everyone in Somerset will be helping to pay for this expensive folly.”
The pro-government Daily Telegraph newspaper describes the measures unequivocally as a subsidy for nuclear. “Years of lobbying by nuclear companies has finally paid off as the Government will today reveal plans to subsidise the price that they are paid for generating electricity”, it concludes .
The fragile economics of nuclear power are already on the line as the first European Pressurised Reactor being built - the type proposed for Hinkley C – has doubled its initial cost estimate to 5.7 billion Euros.
Nuclear power has been covertly subsidised for many years in two obvious ways - through taxpayer support for its decommissioning and waste disposal costs and through the limit set on its liability in the event of a serious accident. These new proposals will increase electricity bills - by as much as £500 a year according to one estimate  - in order to help pay for projects like Hinkley C.
The changes to the electricity market proposed today still have to be agreed by parliament and squared with European legislation, so there are opportunities for their bias towards nuclear to be exposed and ruled out of order.
Stop Hinkley will be supporting national action to push nuclear power out of the “clean energy” basket and expose it as a diversion from a genuinely green future involving energy saving and a range of renewable sources.
For more information: Crispin Aubrey, Press Officer, Stop Hinkley campaign
1. “Nuclear companies secure subsidy”, Daily Telegraph, 16.12.10 www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/8204683/UK-government-agrees-to-subsidise-nuclear-power-companies-prices.html
2. Estimate by uSwitch price comparison website.