Midlands The Environment

Hinkley Point: To C or Not To C?

Yay nor nay to nuclear power?

Lucy Mannion

Naked Politics Blogger 

Another month another controversial decision to be made (as is life in 2016 apparently) but this one was delayed. The government are now seemingly raking over the many different components of the proposed Hinkley C project and a verdict is expected in early autumn.

EDF Chief Executive, the snazzily named, Vincent De Rivaz had been expected to touch down with his fancy pen and finalise the deal at the end of July but just before this the government whipped it off the table, leaving the French company to cry “sacrebleu”, though presumably more in surprise than happiness.

This last minute pivot left many scratching their heads and the media have been bandying around reports that the entire deal is in chaos with commentators proclaiming the delay ‘bewildering and bonkers’, I am inclined to concur.

I realise many continue to oppose nuclear power but let’s be pragmatic here, it’s going to play an inevitable role in our energy mix in the future and as such we should be pressing ahead with Hinkley as soon as possible. A brand spanking new nuclear power station will assist us in reducing carbon emissions, generate new jobs and provide us with ‘a clean source of home grown energy’ this appears to be politicians preferred soundbite on this. The hard core renewables brigade seem to remain resolutely against Hinkley, but surely a project like this on a mammoth scale is the only realistic way to transition to a low carbon future. I’m all for people shoving a few solar panels on their roof, or the odd wind turbine being erected in the countryside, go bananas I say. But what happens when the climate isn’t on your side? I just don’t buy that energy for a population heavy, power guzzling country like the UK, with all our hi-tech kettles and phablets, can be secured by the elements. This tempestuous summer alone should remind us of the perils of relying on the weather in Britain!

The images of the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima stick hard in people’s minds and of course the devastation these events caused is undeniable. However, to object to the creation of Hinkley Point C purely on safety terms, which is a prolific argument, seems a tad too precautionary to me. Unfortunate as these accidents are, they are also uncommon. They are the exceptions not the rule. The fact that such incidents have remained so notorious is because they are unusual.

What I do find contentious about this project is the somewhat bizarre Frankenstein’s monster of a deal involving the French and Chinese, a fusion that wouldn’t work from a culinary point of view and one that I am dubious of on a business level. The notion being that construction costs will be covered mainly by EDF and the Chinese state owned firm CGN. I can certainly understand the incredulity in many circles at allowing the Chinese to get up close and personal with one of our top mega projects, especially as they are known to be pretty hot at conducting corporate espionage.

However, it seems this route has partially come about because pathetically, we don’t even have the expertise to build our own power stations anymore, a brilliant start to making it on our own, post-Brexit.

The bottom line is we need nuclear energy, we require new power stations to provide it, and this necessitates the construction of Hinkley Point C! Otherwise, I fear if the anti-nuclear protesters have their way, I’ll be sweatily peddling away on a bike in my basement in thirty years’ time frantically endeavouring to generate enough electricity to use my hairdryer. Man simply cannot live on renewables alone, not modern man anyway.

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