Sizewell Funding and Dates remain uncertain

The public relations power of the Chinese and UK governments may have left a glowing impression of a new nuclear deal for Sizewell  but the reality is different. Europe now has three potential Hinkley cases to deal with, not just the Austrian legal challenge to Hinkley’ strike price. This was accepted for examination in July.

The second case is admitted officially (see Reuters): it is a merger reference for the new joint EDF/China company to build it. The third case concerns the strike price which was agreed for a total build price of £24.5 bn at Hinkley. EDF now say they’ve been able to cut this back to £16bn (plus £2bn inflation), which could mean Europe has to look again at the strike price. That’s likely because Europe is still directly involved with UK nuclear issues, supervising Sizewell B’s grid price which will lose its protection next year or so.

Other chess pieces have changed too: EDF Paris say they are still looking for new investors, China will only put up 20% of Sizewell costs (and maybe that’s a cash limited figure too). Of the two Chinese companies originally involved, the one owned by the Chinese army to help make nuclear weapons has been dropped out, but maybe (not me guessing) coming back later on for publicly declared possible majority Chinese ownership. Long run its looks like EDF will phase out, or sell out, partly because they are short of money. Their own Sizewell C type new reactor at Flamanville has also been given an official three year delay because it is so overdue and overcost.

Local Sizewell supporting politicians who recently visited Flamanville take note: spending £500,000 of our local tax money for new road planning for EDF may be premature, if not actually a sheer waste of money.

The new consultation and build dates are not really credible. And the key issues remain: when the politicians who push this nuclear prospect are gone, the build will continue, wildlife and nature and tourism will be seriously damaged, and then there are all the known nuclear risks too. Who will pick up the pieces, the extra costs, the dislocation etc? Guess who.

Regan Scott, Gt Bealings

Dear Sir,

I note with interest and alarm the media information and hype about the future of Nuclear Power Generating Stations, their massive high cost, and those who will be instrumental in the building and operating them. A situation brought about by the British Government. In the first instance by the Labour  Government. Persuaded by John Hutton and Jamie Read, Tony Blair, decided that we would need nuclear energy in the future, contradicting former Labour policy. This stupidity has been and is continued by successive Conservative Governments, who still cannot see the wood for the trees.

Although this country has many other ways and means of producing non polluting, cost effective and sustainable energy, with little or no CO2 emissions at the point of generation, the powers that be have decided that instead of embracing a clean energy future for generations to come, they will take the worst possible route, that of engaging foreign powers to build  expensive and heavily polluting nuclear power stations that we will be paying for over  a millennia.

At the same time Government is removing the Feed in Tariff for solar generation which encourages and  sustains renewable energy companies who need the confidence of a subsidy to survive for the first few years of trading. Unfortunately this Government decision is hitting home now and many companies have stopped trading and their employees been laid off.

The German Government has taken a much more sustainable line and have a long  term Energy Plan which excludes new nuclear, we could, with the correct political stance do the same, I am ashamed that our once proud nation is not taking the same decision both for the sake of the environment and for  future generations. I am sure this is what many people in this country would wish to see.

We are told by leading experts and reporters, including some normally supportive of nuclear, that this French/ Chinese/ British Government cosiness for new nuclear is all in all a very bad deal,

which will increase the cost of electricity to householders and businesses alike, and which will lead us away from more sustainable renewable energy supplies.

 More nuclear plants will mean an increased security risk, both from cyber attack and any other malevolent sources. I am concerned that we expect our security services and regulators to protect us from this type of crime, when exposure to the threat is totally unnecessary.

Is Sizewell north of the existing B station a suitable site for two French/Chinese built reactors ?

I am now more convinced than ever that the Sizewell site is not suitable or desirable. It is not a price worth paying when there are other ways of supplying the countries energy needs.

Ways which do not cost the earth, ways which do not leave a legacy of highly radioactive waste, and that do not destroy an area of East Suffolks’ best marsh land its ecology and all the biodiversity it contains.

Our children’s children will not thank us for this Governments crass decision.

 

Yours Sincerely

Joan Girling

 

The China deal heralded for UK new nuclear shows that the UK  is
better at public relations than energy policy.

EADT said - before the television hype - that a £2 billion taxpayer guarantee for the French Hinkley reactor was a 'step closer' for Sizewell. That was a lot more accurate than the tv hype.

What needs to be understood is that the news is truly only a very tiny step in the UK’s nuclear-led energy marathon. The £2bn won’t stretch very far.  Mr Osborne’s official Treasury press statement admits that it is only the first slice of a guarantee.

And if EDF and China were to get the guarantees, the other two companies doing Anglesey and Sellafield, Moorside will properly want the same guarantee from the taxpayers’ pockets. That’s going to be really big money we simply do not have. The Treasury is already cash-strapped for its big infrastructure Pipeline programme which provides these guarantees.

A second public relations sleight of hand on the nuclear subsidy remains important. It is implied that Europe agreed a subsidy “strike price” for Hinkley and Sizewell. Not true, if you read the documents. What Europe said was that if EDF were to build Sizewell, the strike price for Hinkley would be reduced a bit to reflect the economies of scale. And there certainly wouldn’t be a subsidy for China at Bradwell without that having to go to Europe separately.

Influential people who are not anti nuclear are not being taken in by the PR and hype. They are queuing up to say Hinkley is a bad deal, a white elephant, a waste of public money. Mr Osborne’s father in law, Lord David Howell, an energy minister to Mrs T, says think again.The Daily Telegraph has joined in the chorus alongside a former Cabinet Secretary. HSBC bank says no thank you to Hinkley. A former Cabinet Secretary has joined the throng.

Happily, for a saner energy policy, there are still many obstacles in the nuclear marathon: have the two Chinese companies come up with the 45% of funding which EDF apparently needs ? Is Bradwell worth enough if sold  by EDF to China to fill the funding ago for Hinkley and Sizewell ? That’s not a credible arithmetic. EDF maybe doesn’t have the promised money either. Then, court cases are still awaited in Europe from Austria and a powerful German group on the Hinkley subsidy decision.

Further, if China, by hook or by crook, goes for anything like a controlling interest in Hinkley ,Sizewelland Bradwell, it will raise new questions for Europe. French dominant ownership because of its European role is one thing. China using the UK as a platform for getting its nuclear technology into Europe is a different matter. The economic questions will then be joined by political questions about China.

The hype may work for a few days in the UK, but the rumour machine in Brussels says what is really going on is that the UK government and EDF want out of the whole sorry EPR reactor story but need someone to blame other than themselves. One can only say we must await further announcements without bated breath. Can China’s Premier really add anything next month ?

Meanwhile, the real question is whatever happened to a sensible UK (and increasingly realistic) carbon-free energy future ? Other countries have got this in their sights. Why not the UK too, instead of so much destructive, time-wasting posturing ? Amber Rudd, Energy Secretary, has a standing legal duty to review the nuclear renaissance because of evidence of non-nuclear and non-fossil options for the UK. But for the moment she and Osborne seem to believe their own PR. For the rest of us, the 'golden decade' with China is a very different matter.

 

Regan Scott,

Sizewell Dormatory Accommodation.
 
One hardly knows where to start in reply to letter from G. Bickers (letter 23rd June). The issue he raises about affordable accommodation should hardly start with EDF (Electric de France), an 85% state owned electrical company, providing affordable homes for us! Particularly here in Suffolk.
 
Private house builders are certainly not concerned. Just take the recent Framlingham application by Hopkin Homes as an example. The original approval allowed for 47 out of 140 proposed houses to be affordable. After Hopkin Homes contested the building of 47affordable homes, the requirement was dropped. This condition applies to other applications in the wider area also. Affordable homes seem to be 
 a low priority when planning applications are submitted to the Local Authorities here in Suffolk.
 
This is borne out by the latest summer issue "Coast and Country" from a local estate agent. They quote that they have a great demand for properties over £450.000, but, of their 1500 clients 80 have a budget of over a million pounds! What prospect is there of building affordable homes on this basis as our builders are too busy providing "unaffordable" homes.
 
Mr G. Bickers thinks the French should build their dormitories well dispersed in local areas. Maybe Aldeburgh? Saxmundham?  Leiston or where? To keep traffic to the minimum the 3000 main workforce needs to be close to the workplace as 2000 more are to travel in from elsewhere, as well as 600 lorries movements per day plus commercial vans. Chaos will prevail in any case, for as long as 10 or more years. He says these dormitories should eventually to be converted to affordable apartments. At least the French do know how to build a decent apartment block for families, unlike us. Who would do all this converting? EDF again? Our government is currently washing its hands of everything and selling the remaining public housing stock at knock down prices.
 
EDF have endless problems with current projects in Olkiluoto, Finland and Flamanville in France. These have serious delays which will effect the Hinkley Point funding and Sizewell is in the queue behind Hinkley Point. If the worst case scenario happened and Sizewell got started there would be a ten year contract, add a year or two for delays, as has been the case elsewhere, and it is unlikely electricity would be generated before 2035. What state these dormitories would be in after all these years is a matter of conjecture.
 
The bulk of the workforce would need to be close to the site so this is EDF's first choice as a dormitory site. Cast your mind back to the building of Sizewell A and Sizewell B, when the whole area became overrun with imported workers.
 
Bob Hoggar, Halesworth,

 

Dear Sir:
 

You report in todays edition that EDF's Stephen Walls is 'hopeful of progress' regarding the building of Sizewell C & D (let's not forget that two reactors are  planned). Well, he would say that wouldn't he? By now, we must all be well used to the company's spokespersons turning up at venues from street corner to county show to proclaim the usual corporate P.R. spin. It is interesting to note that when Mr Walls talks of developments at Hinckley Point on which Sizewell C depends, he forbears to tell us that potential costs of that project have escalated from £16 billion to £24 billion. Meanwhile, EDF's on-going nuclear power station build in Normandy, France is now more than twice over budget and several years off schedule. As the cost of building these massive power stations continues to spiral, renewables are becoming cheaper and more efficient while smaller, less costly molten salt reactors offer a more realistic nuclear alternative.  You quote Mr Walls as saying he wants to 'make sure we do our best by the local community, the environments and wider area'. The way to do that, I suggest, is to accept that this last-century technology with its campsites of thousands of workers,  traffic disruption, environmental impairment and massive industrialisation is a concept that has long run out of energy.