Campaigners fighting the proposed expansion of Hinkley Point nuclear power station near Burnham-On-Sea have this week issued a call for a fresh approach from the new Conservative government.
The Stop Hinkley Campaign has called on the new government to raise its ambitions on energy policy.
“First, the new Government needs to recognise that nuclear power is a dead duck. Then it should jump on the local energy revolution bandwagon and draw up plans for a 100% renewable energy system for the South West by 2050,” explained Stop Hinkley spokesman Allan Jeffery.
“Such a programme would deliver more jobs, and cheaper energy, at a lower cost and without all the local disruption which Hinkley implies.”
He added: “The new Government has a choice – go-ahead with the financial millstone of nuclear power with consumers paying for decades to come with much of the expenditure flowing out of the region, or develop a sustainable energy programme which will boost local jobs and the local economy. We urge them to choose the latter.”
The group went on to say that in recent weeks the group has learnt that the future of the Hinkley Point C Project is “hanging in the balance” after details emerged about problems at a similar nuclear plant being built at Flamanville in Normandy.
“Anomalies have been found in the bottom and lid of the reactor pressure vessel which mean weaknesses in the vital metal structure protecting the outside world from the highly radioactive reactor core. A similar forging technique may have been used for the reactor vessels for Hinkley Point C,” he said.
“Furthermore, the two Chinese companies considering investing in Hinkley Point C have serious concerns about the European Pressurised water Reactor (EPR) design, and the financial health of the French company Areva which designed the reactor.”
“On top of this, the Government is seeking European Commission approval to hold a ‘golden share’ in EDF’s £24.5bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, which could have the effect of strengthening pending legal challenges against the plant’s construction.”
“Meanwhile, the huge renewable resources available in the South-West are becoming clearer. We have some of the world’s best renewable energy resources, capable of boosting our rural economy and ensuring our energy security. All that is holding us back from the renewable revolution is a failure of political will.”
Stop Hinkley believes that a programme to deliver a 100% renewable energy target would create 122,000 jobs. The capital cost of delivering such a programme would be £59,484m, including £8,784m on Smart Grid energy storage. This is 72% of equivalent nuclear costs for delivering the same amount of energy.