Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is considering extending the life of the Hinkley Point B nuclear plant near Burnham-On-Sea, but only if the nuclear power station complies with “safety certification”, a culture minister has suggested.
Appearing on Times Radio, Chris Philp was asked about reports that ministers have been warned of potential power cuts to as many as six million households this winter, with the Government drawing up plans for rationed electricity if supply issues deteriorate.
Last month, Mr Kwarteng wrote to the owners of the UK’s remaining coal-fired power stations to ask them to stay open longer than planned, and Hinkley Point B could also be given an extension.
Mr Philp described the Business Secretary’s actions as “sensible” and “precautionary” and when asked about the risks of keeping Hinkley Point B open, the culture minister stressed that for the Government “safety is paramount”.
Hinkley Point B has already had its life extended from an original decommissioning date of 2011 and was due to come off line in July of this year.
An EDF insider told the BBC that it would not be without cost and the timing was very tight.
“Extending anything costs more in terms of investment, just like deciding to get your car through the next MOT but nuclear has the added safety case dimension,” he said.
“So it is not necessarily easy and given the closure date is July 2022, that’s very soon to change direction when they are planning on closing in a few weeks.”
A spokesperson for The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) says: “Any extension to the operating life of a nuclear power station would need a robust safety case produced by the operator to demonstrate that the plant is safe to run for any extended period. This evidence would then be thoroughly assessed by a team of expert ONR inspectors.”