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Please note that there is an error in our article which refers to the B1122 Action Group for which we have apologised.

EDF financial troubles continue
Serious financial problems at EDF headquarters in Paris are now becoming routine items for world money journalists and the world nuclear industry. Reuters press agency and World Nuclear News both report that EDF is having to open its books in advance of a shareholder meeting next month. Not only have they had to borrow money to pay shareholders (the French Government and a few others) a dividend, they are facing huge future costs for uprating safety standards after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. They have a big gap between the future estimates of waste storage, EDF saying it will cost €20bn and France’s official nuclear waste agency saying €36bn. Then they still have to absorb ailing Areva who make the very expensive and not yet completed European Pressurised Water Reactor planned for Hinkley and Sizewell. To put it all in perspective, EDF UK have been coining it at about £1.5 bn a year gross profit. Hinkley will costs EDF at least £12bn (and China £6bn and the UK at least another £2bn). It’s fair to guess that the UK profits have been going back to Paris not least because the £ is worth a lot extra to €shareholders. But even if all of the UK profit were retained here for Hinkley, it would take over 10 years to save up to pay for just Hinkley’s two EPRs. The bad overall EDF financial news means it is extremely unlikely independent investors will come forwards, and as world energy prices keep falling, even the falsely high strike price for electricity isn’t enough for them to risk good capital.

The big – but maybe not big enough – EDF sell-off
The Financial Times sister paper Les Echos in Paris announced in the New year that EDF is to sell off half of its stake in France’s national electricity grid and lots of other investments. Going are assets in Hungary and Austria, $2 bn in the USA, and the big news, a 29% share in their UK nuclear reactor fleet which is valued at a mere £9bn, producing about £2.7bn. The total sell-ff, to be completed by 2018 may raise about £ The news was explained by EDF’s overall debt figure in Paris of £27 bn. The report also reveals that some of this money is for Hinkley, but it can’t be used twice so has to be assessed alongside the first story above. Meanwhile December’s other news was that half of the £24 bn Hinkley investment (note the higher figure again) will go to overseas suppliers, and as much as 40% of these will be French. (Guardian 6.12.15).

National Audit Office (UK Government) downgrades Hinkley infrastructure project
The Government is so short of money (austerity/public debt etc) that an NAO report on priorities for national infrastructure spending has downgraded Hinkley to ”amber/red” on a 5 colour scale starting with green and yellow. This comes just before the new Infrastructure Commission under former Labour minister Lord Adonis starts his own review work. If you ask why is Hinkley a matter for public finance downgrading if it is private, well the truth will out: official statistics now count the guarantees and strike price subsidy as ‘public support’ which at the end of the day will be down to the Treasury, even though they want us to pay for it through a consumer levy. That’s the rub for them: a consumer levy is just a tax by another name. And the estimated cost of Hinkley ? Well, the 2015 figure for “whole UK cost” is £14,286 million. In 2012 it was £21 million – not billion, just £21 million. The murk and smoke and mirrors have really gone beserk….By comparison, the whole HS2 railway programme is now to cost £43bn.

Apologies for all this financial stuff, but it paints a very different picture to the one coming from Sizewell EDF’s public relations office. This suggests everything is hunky-dory and on track. It begs a big question about local politicians: do they know the truth about EDF finances ? If so, why are they cheerfully spending our money on new road plans for Sizewell C ? Suffolk County Council £450,000, Suffolk Coastal DC £50,000 ! Did we say spending, or should we have said wasting ?

Granite or blue clay?
An interesting aside is that France’s proposed geological nuclear waste depository will be in a 15 square km blue clay belt north east of Paris. The UK’s proposal remains in Lake District granite. There is some blue clay in the UK, some around North Norfolk/the Wash.

Both roads campaigns, for B1122 and 4 Villages are rebranded
The two local roads campaigns have gone in for rebranding, while maintaining they are not anti-nuclear, which we in TASC find rather odd and not at all necessary. There is a perfectly sensible set of arguments, on traditional planning grounds, to say that more nuclear and very big nuclear at Sizewell is just not good for Suffolk. So much has changed: nature is more extensive in the huge Coastal AONB, nature is much more precarious, environmental laws are necessarily tougher, tourism has developed to being a core industry, a lot more housing causes overdevelopment strains, property prices depend on nature and landscape, not nuclear plants and, crucially, new energy technologies and old nuclear problems and risks make nuclear quite unnecessary, if it ever was.

Anyhow, lecture over, the Four Villages bypass campaign is now to be called the Energy Gateway and our local politicians are spending yet more money on another transport study. The B1122 campaign group have produced a new leaflet with a demand for traffic engineers to find a new relief road direct from the A12 to Sizewell, south of Saxmundham and Leiston. This relaunches an old idea from Sizewell B days, then called the D2 road. There is to be a new local questionaire: we suggest that if there are questions that can be answered to tell the truth about the traffic havoc coming, fill in the answers and write “No to Sizewell C “ or something like that on the form. These campaigns are living in a phantasy world of national and local tax payers funding huge sums of money for EDF’s benefit. They should recognise the realities and come off the fence (it must have been painful enough already to produce the rebrandings !) There is also a piece of political trickery mixed up in it all: under the well known Grampian planning doctrine, big developers like EDF are supposed to do their own funding of access routes and do them in good time to minimise social disruption. But if the road plans can be dressed up as in the public interest, and be charged to gullible taxpayers, the Grampian rule might not apply so directly. EDF could then start up without doing real access road work except bits needed ‘directly’ like from the existing B1122 to the employee camp and the construction yard. Many thoughts will emerge as the rebrandings come under the microscope of pubic opinion. One thought is what would anyone do with a new A12 relief road afterwards? Can’t really see tourists flocking to visit the new Sizewell C reactors, especially if the wildlife has been trashed all around it…..

Meanwhile, the roads issues about Sizewell C are being played out amid campaigns for other (to be made much worse by Sizewell C) traffic problems in east Suffolk. The Saxmunden overdevelopment has led to a call for a big roundabout on the A12 access roads. Despite the dangers, Councillors say this won’t have priority. Then there are the business lobbies for a new bridge over the Orwell inside Ipswich, a northern relief road between the A14 and A12. “No More A14 delays” lobby group says investment would bring £362m extra annual income to the area. A hugely costly 3rd crossing for Lowerstoft is also being pushed. Sizewell C in context looks very different….

Emergency services.
The blue light services resource issue is breaking into public debate alongside continuing pressure from TASC supporters about totally inadequate, uncertain and paper exercise assurances about what would happen with a major incident at Sizewell. Fire brigade cuts and new mini emergency vehicles and shortages of retained firemen and women mean Sizewell ought to boost its own fire services. There is a public consultation ongoing. Police cuts impact too while hospital and ambulance services are already at full stretch. French experience (EDF nuclear plant near Bordeaux) poses another problem: though sea defences had been uprated some time ago, coastal flooding stopped outside emergency services even getting to a fire in the plant. Local coastwatch and border control experts are now starting to campaign about the lack of resources on Suffolk coast to deal with smugglers and the awful possibility of terrorism. Thanks to the extensive report in the ‘Anglian’ (Monday 11th January). The Sizewell dimension of these emergency issues is being pursued through the Sizewell (B) Stakeholder Group, and is becoming a focus for serious TASC examination. SSG co-optee Pete Wilkinson said the SSG is toothless and walked out of the December meeting. Lord Deben, ex Tory Minister, says Britain needs a unified coast protection organisation to cope with flooding from climate change, while PM Cameron is coming under increased political pressure with 10% cuts in flood defence spending (excepting a 2013/4 one-off payment). Hinkley has suffered from what the National Audit Office calls “undelivered” flood defences (Guardian 12.15 Damian Carrington). The emergency debate is centring on total lack of credibility of paper modelling exercises and he need for a real life exercise to test local authorities and ONR(Office of Nuclear Regulation) assurance that everything is OK. This current issue connects to equal and longstanding concerns about overall community protection and evacuation. If Sizewell B becomes Sizewell C & D plus all of the waste stored on site, wouldn’t there be 4 to 5 times the current risk levels ? No-one has ever claimed bigger nuclear is safer: the exact opposite is more like the truth.

Property prices truth emerges
Hidden away on Dec 30th, the ‘Anglian’ did a two page spread on property prices titled “Uncertainties over Sizewell C are a blight on property prices”. Local estate agents, as they would, denied any problem, but amongst the worried is a former MP having problems selling a farmhouse on the B1122 route. And just think, if this is the effect of ‘uncertainty’ blight, what would be the effect of real construction and traffic blight for 10,15 and maybe even 20 years ?

AONB takes Section 106 planning money from EDF for waste store
As the new waste store nears completion, perhaps the strangest story of the season is that the AONB with Sizewell at its heart has taken money off EDF for, well, what ? Section 106 money is supposed to compensate public authorities for developer costs. A small annual grant for a number of years and a six figure sum hopefully will not be enough to buy future silence from the AONB which is supposed to do its basic duty of protecting the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Since the AONB’s detailed management plan for the next few years hardly even mentions EDF at Sizewell, what does one expect ?

EDF pays “independent” Royal Town Planning Institute consultancy to advise towns and villages….
Well, more money slushing around as EDF pays the RTPI’s Planning Aid service to advise on how to make voices heard on the coming Phase 2 consultation. All legal, of course, since developers are supposed to pay all the bills, but it’s a still a funny old world, isn’t it ? (Anglian Dec 28).

Aarhus Convention now to be “fixed’ by Governmen
The international legal convention providing help to the public to challenge government on disputed environmental decisions is to be watered down by the government. The key bit about increasing the costs limit is likely to be challenged. What are they frightened about ?

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EDF employee shareholders say Hinkley puts whole company at risk: Everyone should take full note of the views of EDF’s own employee shareholders’ association in Paris. They own some shares alongside the French government’s 85%. EDF needs at least £40bn to upgrade its ageing nuclear reactors in France and more to refinance Areva, the ailing French nuclear constructor who are being taken over by EDF. The now miraculously cheaper £18 billion project (it was going to be £24.5 bn a few weeks ago) is “so expensive” and “so risky” it puts EDF’s “own survival” in question (Guardian 13.11.15). The price drop, announced by EDF in Paris last month, is apparently because of using direct capital instead of loans, maybe because of the Chinese funds. The figures look more like magic than real money, and EDF are still short of the full amount because the Chinese nuclear company promised cash, not a percentage of total costs which always escalate. EDF are themselves not flush because of the Areva rescue. The Areva Finnish reactor is 9 years delayed and £5bn Euros over budget. EDF has also had to borrow money to pay its dividends. EDF in Paris nevertheless have changed their tune from low key to high key about Hinkley. Why ? They make £750million UK (net) profit per year after only a little bit of tax and a lot of tax allowances. Given a high £ and a low Euro, this is worth 1 billion Euro a year in Paris. The big question is whether the Hinkley price guarantee of £92.50 per megawatt should be reduced now that the cost has fallen from £24.4 billion to £18 billion. Labour MP Paul Flynn asked Energy Secretary of State Amber Rudd on 9th October if she had notified Europe about the £2 billion “loan guarantee” for the Chinese investor. She claimed it was within the Europe agreement, and only a first payment.

Rudd reveals subsidy and waste cost truths: Amber Rudd, Energy Secretary, following Parliamentary rules, sent a letter to MPs on October 21st announcing that the deal with EDF and other investors might involve “liabilities” for the government and UK taxpayer. This formal notice exposes the claim that the Hinkley project will not be subsidized. The ten pages reveal that total subsidy support, paid by customers’ bills, could range between £4billion and £19 billion, and up to £22 billion if the project was shut down by a political decision. Then comes the question of who pays for decommissioning and waste storage. Here we read that the government will take over the waste and own it, charging EDF £2.3 billion, but if costs rise, no more than £5 billion. The last, legal date for Hinkley reactor actually starting to produce is 2037.

Paul Flynn, Labour MP asked Amber Rudd about her response to TASC’s legal challenge for an energy review: On October 20th, a junior energy minister replied that the Department of Energy and Climate Change had set up a working party to look at TASC’s challenge and “to discuss the Nuclear National Policy Statement”. TASC is taking professional advice.

Rudd “resets” energy policy in big November speech: All guns blazing for gas and nuclear, amid rumours that government cuts will see the Energy and Climate Change Department closed down and merged into the Environment Department. After paying for massive nuclear decommissioning of old Magnox reactors and Sellafield (with our taxpayer’s money) DECC doesn’t have much left, maybe another reason she’s cutting subsidies for windfarms, which are doing well but need expansion to meet the UK’s climate change targets. She announced closure of all UK coal plants by 2025, a headlong gas and nuclear strategy for the UK, and an end to helping renewables develop rapidly by removing subsidies. It increases overall investment uncertainty for renewable energy, for both big offshore wind farms and small scale renewables, including community solar and energy saving programmes. It’s been greeted with shock and opposition from anti-nuclear campaigners, is regarded as a slap in the face to climate change professionals facing next month’s big Paris climate change talks, and supports the big fossil fuel companies – the world oil and gas industry – who want a bigger market for the gas which is flooding world markets. Local Lord Deben, former Tory politician John Gummer, now chairman of the UK’s independent Climate Change Committee criticised the whole approach and “striking failings in government policy”. UK renewable energy production is very low by European standards at just 5.1% of the total, alongside Malta, Luxembourg and gas rich Holland. A detail is that Rudd seems to want to find a way of making offshore wind farms pay some sort of levy for variable access to the national power grid, which is itself not fit for purpose. TASC Chairman Pete Wilkinson pointed out that Amber Rudd’s claim that UK nuclear produces 20% of UK energy is wrong: it produces only about 3%, but 20% of electricity.

Hinkley still not in the clear: the Government has had to apply to the European competition authority for permission to have a golden share in Hinkley, to meet political concerns that France, China and maybe other foreign powers in future would control our key power assets. Meanwhile the Austrian legal challenge to Europe on the Hinkley subsidy has been joined by Greece and Luxembourg, and a group of renewable energy producers in Germany. A new issue for them could be the magically reduced cost of Hinkley: it’s high cost was used to justify the high strike price (subsidy) in the original European competition case.

Nuclear’s overall financial problems: after last month’s warning that EDF’s nuclear problems risked its financial credit rating, the big global credit rating agency Standard & Poors has focused on Europe’s decommissioning liabilities which they believe are about 100 billion Euros (£75bn). These add to other risk issues like debt and tighter regulation. Consultants CapGemini have called for decommissioning costs to be examined across Europe because they vary so much: Germany has set aside 4.7bn Euros per reactor, while France has allowed only 1.2 bn. (Reuters). It is believed that the UK Nuclear Liabilities Fund for AGR and PWR reactors is about £10bn short of funds.

Nuclear fuel producer to be privatised: URENCO, the joint UK government, Dutch Government and German company owned nuclear fuel producer –once part of BNFL – is on Mr Osborne’s sell-off list for a £3bn UK share but the German companies are causing delays. What will they sell off next ? EDF at Hinkley has the right to sell its planning consent.

FOE challenges EDF and planners about moving protected water voles: Thanks to Friends of the Earth Suffolk for following up EDF’s efforts to ‘create’ wetland to ‘compensate/mitigate’ for ‘taking’ land for the new reactors and vast construction site. At issue are water voles and drains on Sizewell Marshes. The voles – they’ve declined by 95% and now have maximum protection from ‘disturbance’ - are being very much disturbed, breaching rules by Natural England. FOE is also challenging efforts by EDF to change water management licences. Overall the 20 km environment study zone for nature impact at Sizewell includes 54 sites with differing levels of protection and maybe 200 or more of Suffolk’s 300 ‘priority’ protected species of bird, animal, insects and plants and trees. TASC is undertaking a comprehensive study of the issues.

Europe’s important Birds & Habitats laws defended by 100 UK organisations: Europe is reviewing the longstanding Birds and Habitats Protection Directives, causing widespread concern about them being weakened. A bad review could impact on nature protection at Sizewell, but the RSPB-led opposition is strong. Meanwhile, however, in the next two years the UK must adopt a much stronger revised European law about the assessment rules for protecting nature.
Another costly EDF roads study: Cash strapped Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council new study of a 4 Villages Bypass is to cost £500,000 of council tax payers money: EDF are not paying. Until EDF go to the second stage consultation it will not be known if they are prepared to pay for the 4VBP, although they may contribute to remedial work at Farnham bend. If the Government and the two councils agree on the need for the 4VBF, it will need a full environmental assessment and will cost upwards of £70 million. The spending of £50,000 by SCDC – their contribution - has been delegated to a Lead Officer of the Council by the Council’s Cabinet, ensuring that other Council members have no say.

Suffolk Fire Service cuts: bad news, but questions also need to be asked about the impact on existing disaster duties at Sizewell. TASC has been probing “resilience” issues about resources for public safety given the size now – and much bigger prospective size – of the Sizewell nuclear site. The threatened fire service cuts may also be associated with a call for fire tenders to deal with NHS calls in place of ambulances ! Meanwhile New Anglia LEP (business group) have called for better “resilience” for businesses against weather and climate changes. Not very joined-up thinking, is it? TASC notes that France had a big fire problem during a flood some years back when the Bordeaux estuary nuclear site was above water level but the roads around were flooded and stopped emergency services attending.

Chinese components for Sizewell nuclear reactors ? Mike Taylor, vice chair of the Sizewell Stakeholders Group, asked the obvious question after news that China would put finance into Sizewell C&D. Would EDF come under pressure to use components and supplies from China and what about UK quality standards? The reply was that EDF would apply UK standards regardless of where components came from.

Coastal flooding – National Trust call for urgent action: TASC concern about the impact of coastal flooding and rising sea levels over the long life of new Sizewell nuclear facilities is being echoed (without mentioning shore-based nuclear sites, of course) by the National trust. They name 80 priority coastal sites in the UK, and include Suffolk’s Dunwich Heath and Orfordness, which are not so very far from Sizewell.

UK nuclear regulators told to have regard for economic growth – TASC protests: UK nuclear regulators, the ONR, wrongly but routinely called the toughest in the world, have been told by the Government’s Business Department to consider the impact of their decisions on the “viability of projects” in a new Regulators’ Code. That’s business-speak for profit comes before safety. Pete Wilkinson, TASC Chairman said, “ agencies which even now act more like enablers than scrutineers for the nuclear industry are being dragooned into being cheerleaders for it”. ONR responded about their ‘core purpose being safety’ and ‘security and safety always being the priority’. Not a real answer.

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TASC Bulletin 3 - October 2015

Nuclear policy: new twists and turns?
A lot of strange are things happening in Government energy policy. First Chancellor Osborne in China announces £2 bn loan guarantees, presumably to secure capital from the two Chinese companies who are supposed to invest in Hinkley and Sizewell. Then it is added that the Bradwell Essex nuclear site –owned by EDF as are Hinkley & Sizewell – will be sold to the China companies for their own design nuclear plants. It emerges that there are no more investors for the missing 10% of capital for the £25bn Hinkley project, so the China/EDF split is now revised to 60%/40%. We observe, and it’s correct, that £2bn insurance is not much cover for £25bn, and note the Brussels figure of up to £17bn for associated costs in its OK letter to the UK re Hinkley. Then the Treasury press statement admits the £2bn is the first slice…… All this is to preview the China Premier’s visit this month to sign up for the full Monty deal.

Then comes Tory Party conference: aside from the comedy of Energy Secretary Rudd attacking subsidies as wrong for renewables (because they are doing so well, if not too well) and forgetting that Hinkley’s strike price of £92.50 per megawatt hour is a massive subsidy, Chancellor Osborne then announces the new Infrastructure Commission for high speed railway, airports and interestingly - and “new generation nuclear power” (Guardian 5.10.15).

The new commission, which they say needs a statutory basis (taking Parliamentary time) will apparently decide “priorities” for government policy and support funds. Headed by former New Labour academy schools and high speed rail proponent Lord Adonis (one of the inventors of the political concept of ‘deliverology’), can it mean that there are still big problems for Hinkley ?

Not strategic, but it looks like Rudd’s DECC Department is heading for the big political dustbin: maybe lots of Press releases and silly speeches and ideas (decorating nuclear power stations to make them attractive), but power on energy problems has shifted to the Treasury who have then pushed it sideways to Adonis. Not an impressive narrative.
Other indicators of confusion in the ranks came from UK EDF chief Vincent de Rivaz who was given space in the nuclear sceptical D.Telegraph to explain that ‘our lights’ i.e. ‘his’ lights, would go out without the French nukes, that the cost was only £16bn, not £25bn and all was going well with the new China money.

Then the real EDF chief in Paris, Jean-Bernard Levy (D Telegraph 24.9.15) says investors don’t trust the EPR model which EDF UK and the Government have agreed for Hinkley and Sizewell, and that EDF will not build any more in France. They have only one at Flamanville, which is over time and over cost etc. and await a new (fourth) generation of smaller flexible reactors, which is where their futures money is going. Meanwhile, as a stop-gap, an “upgraded EPR” for France would be available in 11 years time.

The difference of business outlook and model between EDF France and EDF UK makes a certain sense. EDF UK returns about £750 million profits every year to Paris, paying only around £50m tax to the UK Treasury. It’s one of the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy companies under pressure for rip-off tariffs. Going ahead with Hinkley and Sizewell risks eating up this profit as overall Europe develops a more competitive and integrated energy market amidst falling global energy prices, putting big pressure on parent EDF in France. TASC Bulletin 2 reported briefly on National Grid CEO Steve Holliday’s recent analysis, which is key infrastructure background. We now have more detail.

STOP PRESS: Times newspaper (3.10.15) reported that Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s international credit rating agencies have warned EDF risks down-grading (making loans more costly) if it carries on with Hinkley. And that the 2 Chinese companies only want at the very most a 30% share between them, and maybe even that is of the lower overall capital cost figure. The promised final agreement on funding from the China Premier’s visit this month now looks like yet another ‘framework’ agreement.

Revolutionary times for base load electricity ? National Grid chief Steve Holliday (Energy Post 11.9.15) says the idea of big power stations for base load is ‘outdated’. There will a big shift to baseload being provided at consumer/community level, with the national grids specialising in flexible back-up for peak load and wind/sun/wave deficiences. Consumers no longer want big one size fits all, and the technology is changing fast to allow this to happen. The world is moving towards ‘more distributed production and microgrids’. ‘If you have nuclear power in the mix, you will have to think about the size of these plants. Today these plants are ‘enormous’. Well, this sounds like the horse’s mouth, and not good news for long-life, massive, inflexible nuclear technology.

Official Suffolk still doesn’t get the message: Here in Suffolk EDF spokesman Tom McGarry at a Parishes Liaison Group meeting a fortnight ago was more than usually wishy-washy about when a second consultation might start for Sizewell C&D. Our impression is that local politicians and local EDF managers are not really up to speed about either the big economic picture, or the new electricity production models or the new infrastructure planning scenario. They assume Sizewell C (&D) is inevitable. TASC believes this is far from the actual case.

Meanwhile, locally: (1) Suffolk County and Coastal District councillors are confidently going to spend £500,000 investigating the four parishes bypasses and, after a visit to the still not finished EDF Flamanville site, nevertheless think they might be able to find money for EDF’s construction roads by borrowing on EDF’s future business rate to help build the roads and bypasses, as happens in France, a very different country. Different, crucially, because EDF is 90% state owned for a start. Also, EDF Sizewell doesn’t seem to pay business rates for the site to SCDC, only for a Leiston office. Power generation is Class 1 for business rates, which means, we think, special offsets, but where is anything paid in any case?

Meanwhile (2) Tory conference announces new local powers over business rates but only if councils go over to executive mayors. EADT newspaper is starting to carry letters concerned about council mergers and executive mayors. It all sounds like a stitch up until you know that Lord Adonis’ Infrastructure Commission, part of the Treasury, will have a fixed pot of money to decide all the pressing infrastructure priorities, making unpopular decisions which will not stick directly to Mr Osborne’s coat-tails. Can Suffolk politicians and planners really think a national priority will be to spend/borrow maybe up to £150 million to ease EDF along and then impose it on local businesses, with some on household charges too, no doubt?

Meanwhile (3) what the parish reps and audience said was very tough about the extent of traffic problems, road routes and confidentiality. It was pointed out forcefully from the floor that a perfectly reasonable traditional planning case against Sizewell C&D could still by be mounted by SCDC & SCC since the law required only 7 out of 8 ‘suitable’ nuclear sites. There was nothing inevitable about the project, and no need for close partnership or support from the elected councils.

Foreign Policy Think-Tank warns about nuclear ‘cyber’ threats: Chatham House, one of the world’s most serious foreign policy centres in London has warned that nuclear technology is now so computer based that it is asking for cyber trouble. Who would do that? Well, they say No 1 world cyber hacking nation is China for commercial reasons. Oh dear ! Sizewell will be – is planned to be 40% (or 30%?) China owned, and Bradwell 100%...wake up Suffolk and Essex ! Maybe they won’t hack themselves, but it looks too close for comfort.

Planner watch – a TASC task: since no-one, to our knowledge, has yet tried a head-on legal challenge to the draconian national infrastructure planning law which started with the 2008 Planning Act and especially the decision-making balance – if any - between traditional local planning powers and the new national powers, TASC is watching Suffolk planning decisions closely. This is focussed on environment, amenity and suitability (appropriateness) issues, especially where wildlife and protected sites are concerned. We would appreciate information about experiences, because we fear that national planning and environment regulations are violating Europe’s wildlife protection principles through bad UK aoolications of EU Directives. The bodies one would expect to be active about these problematic areas are, sadly, rather quiet, to say the least.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust AGM: Three new trustees for three vacancies, no apparent mention of Sizewell – except some work on the beach -or Aldhurst Farm, but the 8 page glossy Annual Report confirms EDF is top ‘Platinum’ overall sponsor.

Amber Rudd still too busy to reply to TASC ? Our Committee is discussing next steps on the statutory duty to review energy policy- given all the other events reported above, maybe she doesn’t know what to say.

Talk & film show by Pete Wilkinson:
“A Life of Environmental Campaigning”
All welcome- a public meeting

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Nuclear debate starts – at long last

(1) Amber Rudd’s energy strategy: Quick start for the new government energy strategy shows the Tories have cut back the Green Deal, removed tax exemption which helped renewables investment, ended the zero-carbon homes plan, removed guaranteed subsidies for biomass electricity, further reduced solar subsidies, speeded up fracking planning applications and reversed a ban on national parks, and then declared full support for the Paris climate negotiations and existing policy to reduce carbon emissions. Most commentators think that Secretary of State Rudd is standing on her head. No wonder she was able to declare on radio news that nuclear was a different sort of electricity to a stunned interviewer. The real impact of all this is being felt by the renewables industry through policy uncertainty. EADT reported (July 29th) that offshore wind operators felt they were “in limbo” awaiting decisions on support for renewables. East Anglia is globally important for off-shore wind energy.
So far Rudd has not replied to the recent TASC challenge (see below) to do a legally necessary energy review. Meanwhile (see below) Cameron and Osborne continue the desperate search for finance for Hinkley and Sizewell from Chinese pockets with an apparent deal to let EDF sell Bradwell in Essex to the Chinese for their own reactors (see below).
Sorry, almost forgot to mention that speaking in the West Country, Rudd said in June that nuclear power stations must be designed to “look beautiful” to garner essential public support.

(2) Hinkley delayed again, mothballed & Sizewell… Strange flurry of announcements about Hinkley and Sizewell shows big push to refloat an increasingly unpopular and not believable nuclear renaissance. The facts are that Hinkley has been mothballed until there is some money. EDF said officially at the start of September that Hinkley would not start generating electricity in 2023 as planned. Original date? 2017. They also said this would not affect Sizewell schedules. The Daily Telegraph then editorialised on Sept. 8th that EDF’s “dithering” was a good opportunity for the government to rethink nuclear strategy and go for a new era (4th generation) nuclear future on a UK owned and controlled local production basis. That is, not with EDF. Then it was announced that Cameron is to meet the Chinese Prime Minister next month to sign a wide-ranging civil nuclear pact. The Bradwell deal is for a Chinese prototype reactor. The announcement confirmed our fears: the Chinese will be financing partners in the construction and operation of Sizewell. That’s Chinese hands on the levers. We say, politely, PLEASE STAY AWAY!

(3) But Suffolk EDF and EADT say the project is “closer”: Local newspaper EADT and EDF managers seems to be out of the loop. On August 1st, EADT had a big spread about Sizewell C (&D) being “a step closer”, confirmed by CBI chief John Cridland who said he that the, “Eagerly awaited consultation could take place this year following announcements” that EDF was near a financing deal for Hinkley. The story also says that second round consultation on Sizewell C might be “early 2016”. One month later came the Hinkley mothball - delay announcement, and now we are contemplating the deal with China.

(4) Thatcher’s Howell says shed no tears at nuclear cancellation: Former Thatcher Energy Secretary Lord David Howell said he would ”shed no tears’ if Hinkley were to be cancelled. Howell is Chancellor Osborne’s father in law.

(5) TASC challenge to Rudd over NPS TASC’s challenge to Secretary of State Amber Rudd to acknowledge her legal obligation to review the justification for new nuclear build as set out in the National Policy Statement of 2008 has received no reply as yet. The document is now circulating, has been sent to DECC Select Committee members and has been summarised in NuCLEAR News (see below). The full document is now on TASC’s website

Grid boss says big nuclear and coal are not an energy future: Steve Holliday, CEO of National Grid, the UK power transmission operator, has told Energy Post (Sept 11th) that “the idea of large coal-fired or nuclear power stations to be used for base-load is outdated”. Solar on rooftops will be base-load, and the other sources will be for peak-load only. The grid system and consumer demand is moving towards much more distributed production and microgrids.

Three giant interconnectors to transform energy prices: OFGEM has approved three new giant interconnectors from Britain to Europe, 2 to France, 1 to Denmark. More are being discussed. A Belgium link-up was approved last year. So future Sizewell could be selling UK subsidised electricity back to France at low European prices – paid for by us?

Barrie Skelcher: Our colleague and adviser’s death in August at 83 is a loss to the Suffolk community on many issues beyond nuclear power. An inveterate letter writer and campaigner, former senior safety and information officer at Sizewell A & B, he had worked for the CEGB at Windscale (now Sellafield) and Dounreay before coming to Sizewell. He was opposed to the Sizewell C reactor: wrong place, wrong type, exposed to terrorists and coastal erosion. His two novels were based on these concerns. He was an expert yacht racing coach and powerboat instructor too. His contribution to the work of TASC will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

EDF flat out at public relations: EDF’s self-styled Green Team and PR people are working flat out. There is now a Parish newsletter to add to the EDF Newsletter. Coverage overall is rather selective: we couldn’t see anything about EDF profits and low taxes last year, or sponsorship of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. The EDF Green Team hosted a farmer and producers’ market on site and dubbed it a “pop-up” market for some reason. EDF were also a major sponsors of the Suffolk Show.

Aldhurst Farm starts – to “benefit wildlife”: Thanks to colleagues in Friends of the Earth Suffolk for updates on Aldhurst Farm, with the help of their expert ecologist. EDF are already relocating reptiles, seem to be interfering with water levels despite promises, and EADT reports that national and local experts and bigwigs have visited the site where EDF project leader Dr Mannings will be “creating” new wetlands, showcasing and rolling out the 67 hectare site, in order, they claim, “to benefit a variety of wildlife including water voles, otters, eels, amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as rare plants”. TASC asks, respectfully, who defines and decides on ‘benefit’? Could it be some of the same people who are propping up this exercise with their no doubt completely independent expertise?

RWE boss and HSBC speak out: The economic debate about new nuclear and especially its subsidised price level is hotting up. The boss of German power company RWE, one of the UK’s big six, said Hinkley would be seen by future generations as an “expensive mistake”. HSBC bank’s in depth report in August said there is “ample reason for the UK government to delay or cancel the project” because our energy demand is falling and 3 new continental interconnectors would bring cheap energy. The Independent newspaper calls Hinkley a “white elephant”.

Dan Poulter MP signs up to 38Degrees’ Green Deal: Local press report says Dr Dan has done it. The Green Deal (not the Government’s one!) is a buyer network for renewable energy. Not nuclear as we understand it. Any views/experience ?

Meanwhile Sizewell disappears from map: TASC supporters often complain that maps, TV programmes and tourist publicity do not mention or show Sizewell nuclear estate. But looking for a new road map recently, it came as a surprise that one very prominent automobile club road map for this year has dropped Sizewell village off the road network completely. It hasn’t shown the power station for donkey’s years, of course. Do not buy.

Ocean warming unstoppable: US Government scientists last month reported that ocean warming through climate change would have consequences for centuries to come even if CO2 production can be dramatically reduced. With 2014 the hottest year on record, record surface and upper sea water temperatures were now causing storms and rising seas levels. See Guardian 25.7.15.

NuCLEAR News: As regular on-line readers of monthly NuCLEAR News, we say try it out. Find under Google No2NuclearPower. Good in-depth stuff.

Sizewell Parishes Liaison Group 23rd Sept: An open meeting at 7 p.m. at Leiston Community Centre will be held to discuss EDF plans. Info courtesy TEAGS (Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell).

River water groups to sue Government over pollution: Wildlife groups WWF-UK, the Angling Trust and FishLegal have been granted judicial review against DEFRA for failure to meet a European deadline to clean up polluted natural habitats, in this case Poole Harbour, and rivers Avon, Wye and Eden. Case due next year.

Watch the TASC website for dates of meetings and events

Download a pdf version of the newsletter here


Austrian legal challenge reinforced Renewable energy groups (companies and municipalities) in Germany and Austria have launched another law suit against the Brussels Comission’s approval of the £92 price guarantee for EDF. Called the Action Group, they say the British state aid subsidy will undermine the market for renewables by as much as 11.8%. The parallel Austrian Government case, still to be lodged to the European Court of Justice, aims to suspend the aid and deter nuclear investors in line with Austria’s national anti nuclear policy. World Nuclear News 3.7.15 Suffolk planners told EADT the legal challenge would put back a Sizewell build till 2019 or 2020 and start up to 2030. Meanwhile there is still no investment decision on Hinkley and rumours that the British Government is seeking a ‘golden share’ to counteract EDF’s legal right to sell on its licence. EADT 11.3.15


RSPB expresses fear about Sizewell nuclear construction. Fearing for the future of their Minsmere and North Warren reserves which abut the new reactor site at Sizewell and the huge constriction yards, Suffolk RSPB have especial worries about water levels within the marsh sites, coastal habitat disturbance (potentially changing the shape of the shoreline) and night time and winter arc lighting. They will continue with advisory work with EDF pursuing ‘mitigations’. The focus at present seems to be on the construction period, not the operational risks of more than doubling nuclear capacity and long term waste storage etc. East Angian DTimes 10.7.15


Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has nuclear family connection Thanks to Private Eye for revelation that Roland Rudd is chairman of Finsbury City PR firm which represents construction company Keir who have a £100m construction contract with EDF for Hinkley C. PE7.15


EDF nuclear fire & Areva & French policy problems. French nuclear engineering company Areva are into so many problems they had to be taken over by EDF. A fire broke out at the first old reactor to have its life extended at Paluel near Dieppe, during a safety inspection! 71 firefighters took 6 hours to ‘control’ the incident. And a molten metal problem remains. Another plant at Blayais near Bordeaux had two evacuations in one week, with radioactive dust leaking. Flamanville (the same reactor as the Sizewell C&Ds) had a big problem when a major part of the Areva ordered steel reactor vessel had to be sent back because of the wrong steel mix. It is rumoured the replacement may be the one meant for Hinkley. Meanwhile the French Gov is reducing its nuclear fleet to 50% from over 80%, has decided life extensions and a new generation of reactors. Does that mean the EPRs (3rd generation) for Britain aren’t good enough for France itself ? The only one being built in France at Flamanville (Normandy) is way behind time, while the 2 in Finland are years over time and in a two sided cost dispute about a reputed €4bn. And, cracks in an older generation EDF reactor in Belgium haven’t helped EDF’s overall reputation, which is what matters to outside investors. STOP PRESS: the BBC has revealed flaws may be present in the two steel caps/feet already sent to China by Areva for the EDF reactors being built there !


Challenge to local planners and politicians TASC is challenging the Joint Local Authority Group (JLAG) which liaises behind closed doors with EDF on the Sizewell C&D. Local papers reported that TASC wanted an end to “excessive secrecy” about Sizewell C. One problem is that minutes are not taken at the JLAG meetings, only ‘notes’. As body supposed to be representing the electors of Suffolk Coastal and Suffolk County, we believe its activities should be properly accountable. It is seen as too close to EDF as the project developer and not representing or fully canvassing community views.


FOE pursues issues about Aldhurst Farm Suffolk Friends of the Earth have been working with a professional ecologist probing the plans to turn EDF owned Aldhurst Farm into a mitigating wetland to compensate for the permanent loss of part of the Sizewell Marshes SSSI and associated damage and risk to wildlife around the proposed huge construction site. A special issue concerns water depletion, while there is also concern about the legal status of promises made by EDF about the site’s future.


TASC Environment Analysis for September campaign We are preparing an environment and wildlife broadsheet looking at the whole spectrum of issues raised by the nuclear project. FOE have already been active distributing their leaflet on wildlife issues. TASC will look at the 54 protected sites involved in the chosen impact zones, and present campaigns, representational issues and legal background.


Government shows ungreen colours ! Before the election, Govt had removed sustainable building rules for brownfield housing sites. Now they have capped and lopped a year off renewable subsidies, and extended the climate change levy to renewables. They have withdrawn subsidies from landbased wind farms too. Next comes putting fracking planning under the national infrastructure planning system, like nuclear, to override community democracy because of successful resistance in Lancashire and Sussex.


Met Office new analysis Sizzling summers, wetter and warmer winters are forecast for the end of the century. Meanwhile, the Global Commission on the Economy & Climate have a new report saying that policies offered by governments are not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions, while energy efficiency & clean power therefore have a much bigger role to play. (EADT 111.7.15)


TASC calls for Govt energy review We have submitted a legal call for an energy review by government based on its duty to respond to changed circumstances and the govt’s own DECC options for power demand reduction and maximised renewable production. These show nuclear is not necessary.


Keep China out of British Nuclear Industry Leading Oxford economist and energy analyst Professor Dieter Helm, a government adviser, has called for the Govt to take an equity stake in Hinkley new nuclear, saying it would be “perverse” and a “no brainer” to take Chinese money. Nuclear union GMB has also protested at Energy Secretary Amber Rudd’s leaving the door open for Chinese money and reactor technology and supply chains to go to the Bradwell site in Essex. GMB said it would hit British jobs, and that even Chinese experts had safety doubts about Chinese nuclear safety. What an unholy and dangerous mess !


Nuclear Waste costs rocket… Nuclear News (7.2014) reports the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)says Sellafield liabilities are now £110 billion, but the total would “increase significantly” as the full work load is revealed. National Audit Office said progress by 2012 was ‘extremely limited’ &. old ponds and silos pose very serious problems. Remember the taxpayer pays the bill, and Sizewell will have to store all of its nuclear wastes for the foreseeable future. Who will pay is an unsettled issue between Brussels and London over Hinkley. The European ‘polluter pays’ principle is hopefully another barrier to new nuclear. Common sense says we are talking £billions per reactor.


Nuclear newsletter… NuClear News, the bulletin of the No2Nuclear Power group is good value. Monthly detailed updates on web.


Japan forced to cede new safety zones Big public debate and local protests about restarting some Japanese nuclear reactors after the Fukushima ban reveal its nuclear inspectors ceding 30 km zones to replace 8 -10kms for “fully prepared” evacuation plans. TASC continues its work to oppose a reduced evacuation zone for Sizewell and lack of credible resources for the emergency services here.


EDF at Sizewell With the steel containment vessel problems and Areva take- over strains and still no financing deal for Hinkley, EDF in Suffolk have told the press (EADT 17.6.15) “Sizewell C will not move forward until the Somerset station scheme is settled”. Tom McGarry, Sizewell communications chief, explained that documents might be finalised in the coming weeks, and then a final investment decision could be allowed to be made in the next few months.