Published: October 21, 2013
Full reaction to government's approval for Hinkley Point C expansion

The government has given the go-ahead to Hinkley Point's expansion near Burnham-On-Sea today (Monday).

French-owned EDF Energy will lead a consortium that includes Chinese investors to build the new Hinkley Point C power station near Burnham-On-Sea.

Ministers and EDF have been in talks for more than a year, however the two sides have finally agreed the all-important 'strike price' - the guaranteed rate to be paid for electricity produced at the site.

The existing plant at Hinkley Point currently produces about 1% of the UK's total energy, and that will rise to 7% if the expansion is completed.

The two reactors proposed at Hinkley Point C, which will provide power until around the second half of this century, are a key part of the government's drive to shift the UK away from fossil fuels towards low-carbon power.

This will come at a price, however, with the government promising to pay the owners of Hinkley Point a fee of £92.50 for every megawatt of power Hinkley C generates per hour. This will fall to £89.50 for every megawatt of power if EDF goes ahead with plans to develop a new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk.

That is almost twice the current wholesale market price for electricity at around £50. The government will be paying that price for 30-40 years, irrespective of whether market prices soar or collapse.

However, today's announcement is not legally binding and it will be 2014 before EDF makes a final investment decision on the project. The plans will also require state aid clearance from the European Commission.

Expected to generate £14billion of investment over the next decade, the Hinkley Point C development will create around 25,000 jobs during construction and 900 permanent jobs during operation

The news has been met with disappointment by some campaigners.

Jo Brown from Burnham-based Parents Concerned About Hinkley told "It will be a disaster for the Burnham area and beyond if Hinkley Point C goes ahead."

"The cost of the 'strike price' sounds astronomical and it would make far more financial and environmental sense if solar panels and wind farms were placed on the Hinkley Point site instead of more nuclear."

"The health damage from nuclear in the Burnham area since 1966 has been huge - the increased cancer rates are well documented."

Stop Hinkley campaign group spokeswoman Nikki Clark added: "The coalition government have dug themselves into a hole. They are desperate to implement their half-baked energy strategy and it seems they don't know when to stop digging."

"They'll go to any lengths to create more nuclear power stations. They claim we need nuclear for climate change but as well as as the long predicted construction delays translating into carbon target delays, the nuclear establishments green credentials are highly contested."

"The coalition government also claim that we need nuclear power to keep the lights on but this latest move is akin to giving away the light switch! Since when is Russia having control of our gas taps more problematic that the largest most powerful authoritarian state in the world having control of our most dangerous technology – nuclear?"

Gary Smith, GMB national secretary for energy, said: "EDF seem to have sought a reasonable deal. It appears they haven't sought to drive home the advantage they had in the negotiations over the strike price. We have an energy policy that is in tatters, which in turn left the UK government in a very weak bargaining position."

Sedgemoor District Council Leader Cllr Duncan McGinty praised the Government and EDF’s persistence in reaching agreement: "We are pleased that EDF and the Government have concluded their negotiations on a strike price. This is an important step in a long journey before Hinkley Point C starts generating electricity for the nation. We will continue to work with EDF to make sure that local people justly benefit from hosting the power station on their doorstep."

Secretary of State for Energy Ed Davey added: "Local people are very happy" about getting the investment for the new nuclear power plant in their area, creating thousands of jobs." He said 57% of the work will go to British firms and British workers, despite the involvement of the French and Chinese.

"As we compete in the tough global race, this underlines the confidence there is in Britain and makes clear that we are very much open for business" said Prime Minister David Cameron on the Hinkley Point C agreement.

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