Published: April 24, 2013
Hinkley Point C project 'on verge of collapse' say nuclear campaigners

Lay-offs at EDF's Hinkley Point C development project are a sign that the whole scheme could be on the verge of collapse, according to local campaigners this week.

EDF announced on Tuesday (April 23rd) that it is cutting the number of people working on the project even though the plans for the new power station were approved by the Government last month.

EDF's decision to cut jobs comes as the company continues to negotiate with the Government on how much it will be paid for electricity if the new station eventually goes into operation.

The company said the reduction in jobs will help it to control costs "ahead of securing the project's financing necessary."

But Theo Simon from the Stop Hinkley campaign told "With today’s announcement of further lay-offs at Hinkley C, it looks like EDF could be preparing to pull-out."

"There is a growing tide of challenges now being raised against the new nuclear plant - including doubts over its radioactive waste plan, EU competition laws, lack of adequate investment and the continued failure to reach agreement over fixing our future electricity prices in advance - so it's not surprising that EDF are ready to cut their losses and run. But it will of course be a blow to the people in West Somerset who have pinned their hopes on EDFs PR promises of jobs and prosperity for all."

"The scary thing is that, despite EDFs assurances that it is not 'holding a gun to the governments head', this announcement may also be another attempt to up the pressure on failing negotiations over the guaranteed future energy price, which EDF want to fix for the next 40 years at twice the current rate, at our expense."

"If it is a negotiating ploy, it’s a very cynical way to play with the livelihoods of the people getting laid off. It doesn’t bode well for the reliability, loyalty or honesty of the French state corporation, which wants to tie the fortunes of our county and our national energy supply to its own until the next century."

"The sad situation now facing Hinkley C workers highlights the negligence that the County and District Councils showed towards the interests of Somerset and it’s people when they jumped so compliantly onto EDF’s bandwagon without first making sure that the project was economically and ecologically sustainable. I hope that people will be remembering that when they vote in next week’s county council elections, and checking where candidates stand on Somerset becoming a radioactive waste dump for the next few thousand years."

Meanwhile, the leader of the union representing 21,000 workers in the nuclear decommissioning and energy supply industry has called on all parties involved in the negotiations to redouble their efforts to reach an agreement on a price for electricity generated by Hinkley C.

Alan Leighton, the National Secretary of Prospect, said: "Our members fear that any delay in the preparation work could impede or delay EDF's ability to bring the project to fruition once agreement has been reached. Prospect is committed to an appropriate energy mix for the UK, including gas and renewables, but it is undoubtedly the case that nuclear and nuclear new build will be pivotal if we are to achieve the twin goals of capacity and security of supply."

"We hope that this announcement will encourage all involved in the talks to redouble their efforts to agree a strike price. Particularly as it comes so soon after the recent warning from outgoing Ofgem head, Alistair Buchanan, that we are facing an imminent capacity crunch in the UK unless urgent action is taken. Without an agreement we risk losing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to meet the country's decarbonisation targets and help build a new economy that provides good quality jobs and growth for the UK."


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