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UK to build first nuclear plant in a generation, as Hinkley C is given go-ahead



The government has reached a deal with EDF Energy over the construction of the first new nuclear power station in 25 years. The plant, based in Somerset, will be operational from 2023 and will “reduce UK’s emissions by 9m tonnes of CO2 per year”.

The facility, Hinkley Point C, will power up to 6m homes in the UK, create thousands jobs and help the UK meet its climate targets by providing low-carbon energy.

EDF’s contribution of £16 billion investment has been crucial to cover part of the cost.

David Cameron said, “Earlier this month I spoke about our new industrial policy that looks to the future, and about our determination to embrace new technologies and back new industries and energy sources so that they can flourish and help us build a rebalanced economy across the country.

“As part of our plan to help Britain succeed, after months of negotiation, today we have a deal for the first nuclear power station in a generation to be built in Britain.”

Meanwhile, energy secretary Ed Davey called it an “excellent deal” and expressed satisfaction for the first new nuclear plant that “will be built without money from the British taxpayer”.

It will increase energy security and resilience from a safe, reliable, home-grown source of electricity”, he said.

The operator will be responsible for the entire cost of decommissioning and waste disposal.

Keith Parker, chief executive of the trade body the Nuclear Industry Association, said, “By incentivising investment in nuclear energy and other low-carbon technologies, the UK is well on the road to ensuring secure domestic supplies of electricity for the long-term.

Today’s agreement will help protect consumers from the uncertain and volatile costs of imported fossil fuels for decades to come.”

However, nuclear opponents are sceptical that the move will mean cheaper bills. Richard Nixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland said, “This price guarantee is a blank cheque that is likely to cost UK consumers more than £100 billion over the life of any new nuclear reactors. People are already worried about their fuel bills, adding a long-term nuclear subsidy at twice today’s prices is the last thing anyone needs.

Meanwhile, head of climate and energy policy at WWF-UK Nick Molho said, “Now that the government has agreed a deal to support to EDF’s proposed new plant at Hinkley, it is essential that clear mechanisms are in place to prevent any future cost overruns from having an impact on the funding available to other low-carbon technologies such as renewables.”

Further reading:

UK needs ‘major investment’ to avoid electricity shortages

UK nuclear projects open to Chinese investment

Japan turns off last nuclear reactor

Lib Dems criticised over nuclear U-turn 

Government nuclear strategy ‘outdated and expensive’