Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/917/23590
Hinkley Point C: wasteful, dangerous and polluting
Richard Worth, Socialist Party South West
Theresa May has given the go-ahead to build the £18 billion 'Hinkley Point C' in Somerset, the UK's first new nuclear power station in 20 years.
French firm EDF, with China General Nuclear, are guaranteed £92.50 per megawatt-hour of electricity. That's more than double the current price, rising with inflation for 35 years.
The National Audit Office says consumers will pay £30 billion through higher bills to subsidise EDF. A former Tory energy secretary described the deal as "one of the worst ever".
Hinkley C will be an unproven 'European pressurised reactor' (EPR) - nicknamed 'enormous problems to resolve' by the French press.
An EPR is being built at Flamanville, where France's nuclear safety authority found weaknesses in the reactor's steel. It's three times over budget, and six years behind schedule. 1,000 jobs have been cut to save €1 billion, compromising safety. In Finland another EPR is ten years late.
With falling UK energy production, Hinkley C won't be ready to meet the energy gap.
A nuclear power station isn't a green or sustainable energy source. Its construction is far more carbon-intensive than renewable plants. The ongoing mining and milling of uranium ore produces huge amounts of carbon too. And scientists believe uranium could start to run short in just 50 years.
Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trade Union Congress, welcomed Hinkley C for jobs. But this ignores the dangers and costs for workers and their families.
'Stop Hinkley' campaign spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said: "The few permanent jobs Hinkley might generate aren't worth the exorbitant cost. Developing renewables will generate many more permanent jobs than Hinkley Point C ever will."
The Tories have cut subsidies to renewable energies. For the £30 billion subsidy to EDF, free solar panels to 7.5 million households could be funded. The power of Hinkley C could be provided by four big wind farms.
Private energy companies, interested only in profit, cannot provide us with safe, affordable energy. Only by taking them into public ownership, under democratic workers' control and management, can our needs be met with clean renewable energy.
In The Socialist 22 September 2016:
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