DEBATE: In light of EDF adding £1.5bn to its estimated costs, should the government rethink building the nuclear plant Hinkley point C?
YES – Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party.
Theresa May keeps insisting there’s no magic money tree. There appears to be for Hinkley Point C – set to be the most expensive object ever built on earth. It is so obviously a terrible deal. The subsidy required for the dirty energy it will produce has ballooned from £6bn in 2013 to £30bn now, as the cost of alternative renewable energy has plummeted. The National Audit Office says that Hinkley is overpriced and risky – and that was before the estimated construction cost rose to £20.3bn. It gets worse. The type of reactor planned for Hinkley, known as the EPR, has not yet been shown to work anywhere in the world, and there is still no plan to deal with the nuclear waste. Meanwhile Hinkley sucks resources away from renewable and community energy schemes which are cheaper, greener and create many more jobs per pound invested. The government must decide what kind of Britain it wants to build and scrap Hinkley immediately.
NO – Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association.
The government isn’t building Hinkley Point C – EDF is. They pay to build it, and consumers only pay when it is producing power. EDF’s risk review doesn’t change the UK’s urgent need for new generating capacity. Currently, a fifth of all our power comes from nuclear. Between 2010 and 2030, two-thirds of the UK’s power stations will retire, which we need to replace. We need a balance of power sources in our mix to provide a secure and reliable supply. Nuclear provides constant power to complement variable renewables, with low carbon emissions and predictable fuel costs. Hinkley is the first new nuclear power station for a generation, at a much lower cost than other low carbon power contracts agreed at the same time. We need all of that – and more – to upgrade our electricity infrastructure, and guarantee our future power supply. There is no free way of building the capacity to generate the power we all need.