Saturday, 3 September 2016

Kerry McCarthy talks about Hinkley Point nuclear power station

I received a weekly update from my new Torbay MP, Kevin Foster, this morning in which he reported on his visit to the site of the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station and this reminded me that I had not yet blogged what will probably be my final email from my previous Bristol East MP, Kerry McCarthy. I wrote to her regarding Hinkley as a part of the Greenpeace petition I blogged about in July. Kerry was (or still is for people who haven't moved!) an excellent MP and I am already missing her sensible sustainable ideas and commonsense approach.

Kevin's newsletter is interesting in its use of language. He is obviously very much in favour of Hinkley and proudly announces 3000 firms across the region having registered their interest in working on the site. He does not say what proportion of these might be successful. Kevin does give a nod towards renewable energy sources, but gives the impression that "starting work on the major investments we need" does not include investing in this dynamic industry. Indeed, the Tories have slashed renewables investment (or subsidies as such cash is also called) resulting in hundreds of British jobs already being lost. Kevin ends up with a triumphant report on a fraudulent benefit claimant having been caught and ordered to repay £17,000. I am sure that will make a significant dent in the £30 billion Hinkley is now estimated to cost British taxpayers. Grrr!

Here's what Kerry McCarthy has to say about Hinkley:

"Thanks ever so much for getting in touch with your concerns about Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station. My apologies for replying to you in a group email. I have read with interest all your emails and comments, which I really appreciate, and have tried to respond, below, to all the issues you raised.

While I do believe that new nuclear has a role to pay in supplying low-carbon power, I do not think this should be at any price. It was especially troubling that at the same time the Government was agreeing additional nuclear subsidies earlier this year, it was cutting support for more affordable clean energy technologies. I have been dismayed that it negotiated a deal that was set to see households and businesses paying out for the most expensive power station ever built anywhere in the world – costing more than the 2012 Olympics, Crossrail and Heathrow’s Terminal 5 combined.

As you may know, EDF Energy confirmed its decision to go ahead with building HPC on 28 July 2016. But following EDF’s decision, the Government announced at a day’s notice that it was delaying signing the final agreement for HPC. It is now conducting a review into the project, to report in the early autumn, and I hope it does properly consider if this huge investment really makes sense.

I am concerned that the Government has seriously mismanaged the public interest in HPC. They committed to paying a price for 35 years that is far too high for consumers, when the cost of other low carbon energy has been falling to record lows and when it has been cutting support for more affordable clean energy technologies. It recently admitted that the whole life cost of HPC was an extra £24billion more than it estimated last year. There is also still no assurance that it will be operating by 2025, when coal is no longer supplying the base power we need – which would require building other power plants to fill the supply gap, while still having to pay EDF for energy we no longer needed.

After two years of rejecting calls, including from the Opposition, for a plan B, I very much believe that the Government must now undertake a root and branch review of the HPC project. It must renegotiate this appallingly bad deal for bill-payers, to ensure it will deliver power on time at a reasonable price for consumers.

The Government’s changes to energy policy since May last year have been completely incoherent, which has undermined investor confidence and growth in low carbon energy. Shockingly, the UK has now fallen out of Ernst and Young’s top 10 countries for attracting renewable energy investment, from 8th place in June 2015, to 11th place in September 2015 and 13 th place today. Its decision to cut support for solar power and end subsidies for onshore wind - two of the cheapest forms of clean energy – has led to job losses here in Bristol and across the country. It has also ditched support for low-carbon technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage and is failing to provide the investment we need in energy efficiency. You can see some of my interventions on this issue here.

Thank you for getting in touch about this important issue. I am monitoring this issue closely and have been interested to read reports of emerging new technologies which are improving the storage of intermittent wind and solar energy (and crucially, their cost) and could make large-scale energy generation of this kind less necessary in future (eg this article here).

Best wishes

Kerry McCarthy Labour MP for Bristol East
Twitter: @kerrymp
Facebook:  "

1 comment:

  1. A new anti-Hinkley petition here: