Energy Secretary Amber Rudd (letter, April 21, ‘Minister: Hinkley no risk to power supply’) clearly has the gift of clairvoyance.  She says that no liabilities would fall to the UK tax payer or consumer should Hinkley Point C be cancelled.  Notwithstanding the subsidies from the public purse already handed over to the nuclear industry in the last ten years in the form of ministerial support, conferences, promotional events, paying expensive consultancies and general palm greasing, who, pray, would foot the bill to complete the Hinkley project should EdF withdraw after a few years of construction when cost and time over-runs became apparent as they have with other projects in France and Finland?  And assuming the plant ever began generating its costly electricity, who would be responsible for the waste management costs, the size of which can only be estimated since the location, depth, technical details about cladding, inventory or even if there will ever be a repository remain stubbornly vague and could yet result in indefinite storage on site?  Spent nuclear fuel from a notional Hinkley C or Sizewell C will be on their respective sites for an estimated160 years, assuming Amber Rudd’s clairvoyant prediction of a 60 year operating lifetime for Hinkley doesn’t suffer from terminal technical problems.  Who take title to hundreds of tonnes of spent nuclear fuel if, as is likely, within that period of time, EdF disappears and the repository proves to be impossible to construct or is shown to be fraught with too many technical and scientific problems?  As usual, the public purse would be required to bail out a private venture. Amber Rudd’s claim of ‘no liabilities’ is as irresponsible as a short term response to legitimate concerns as government’s energy policy will prove to be in the long term.  Better to cancel Hinkley, Sizewell and all the other nuclear plans now while some semblance of energy policy credibility remains than to see it unravel in the most embarrassing way over the coming decades leaving communities like ours to carry the can for official incompetence and governmental obsession with a nuclear fix. 

Pete Wilkinson


Together Against Sizewell C

Category: Local Letters