New nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C is approved


Ed Davey said the new nuclear power station was a milestone on the road to decarbonisation

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The first of a planned new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK has been given approval.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey told MPs in the Commons that he was granting planning consent for French energy giant EDF to construct Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

The proposed £14bn power plant would be capable of powering five million homes.

Mr Davey said the project was "of crucial national importance" but environmental groups reacted angrily.

25,000 jobs

The building of Hinkley Point C is expected to pave the way for a fleet of new plants across the UK.

It is estimated the project will create between 20,000 and 25,000 jobs during construction and 900 permanent jobs once in operation.


Nuclear plants are not breeding fast - it has taken a whole generation to get this close to a new pair.

But today's decision is only the start of a government struggle to fuel much of the country on atomic power.

Because Hinkley is the only nuclear plant queuing for planning permission at the moment.

What's more, the stations there will have to be subsidised massively by the public under a deal being "intensely" discussed by the Treasury. Its owners are asking for government guarantees that may possibly be challenged under EU competition law and the firm is still looking for a business partner.

And even if the plants at Hinkley actually do get off the ground, there is still a huge question mark over the rest of the new-build programme.

To replace historic capacity would need at least three more developments on this scale. But it's barely conceivable that the new-build programme could progress with no sign of a long-term nuclear waste disposal in prospect.

The stakes are high. The government's chief energy scientist David Mackay recently warned that to supply clean energy to industry would take a four-fold increase in nuclear power - or (based on new figures) an increase in wind power of between 12-20 fold.

That's unless we all start saving energy with a level of frugality and invention which has eluded us so far.

BBC industry correspondent John Moylan said the power plant would cost more than the London 2012 Olympics.

Mr Davey told the Commons: "The planning decision to give consent to Hinkley Point follows a rigorous examination from the Planning Inspectorate, and detailed analysis within my department.

"This planned project adds to a number of new energy projects consented since May 2010, including wind farms and biomass and gas-fired power stations.

"It will benefit the local economy, through direct employment, the supply chain and the use of local services."

The news is a boost to the nuclear industry following a series of setbacks in plans to construct a new fleet of reactors in the UK, which ministers say are needed to cut carbon and keep the lights on.

Nuclear waste

Start Quote

It will lock a generation of consumers into higher energy bills, via a strike price that's expected to be double the current price of electricity”

End Quote John Sauven Greenpeace chief executive

EDF says the project would generate taxes equivalent to a few percentage points of what the entire financial sector yields for the exchequer.

The energy giant is negotiating with ministers over what it can charge for the electricity Hinkley generates for decades to come.

Mr Davey said discussions on the strike price were ongoing, but he expected them to be concluded shortly.

EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said "intensive discussions" were taking place.

He said: "To make this opportunity a reality, we need to reach agreement swiftly... It must offer a fair and balanced deal for consumers and investors."

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint welcomed the decision to grant planning consent.

"Today's announcement is an important milestone in the development of new nuclear build in the UK," she said.

"I am pleased to welcome it and reiterate our support for nuclear power alongside an expansion of renewable energy and investment in carbon capture and storage as part of a clean, secure and affordable energy supply for the future."

'Fair and balanced'

However, environmental groups have reacted angrily.

They raised concerns over the potentially high price for electricity the government will agree to in order to get the nuclear plant built, and over the issue of nuclear waste.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: "It will lock a generation of consumers into higher energy bills, via a strike price that's expected to be double the current price of electricity, and it will distort energy policy by displacing newer, cleaner, cheaper technologies.

"With companies now saying the price of offshore wind will drop so much it will be on par with nuclear by 2020, there is no rationale for allowing Hinkley C to proceed."

Friends of the Earth's Policy and Campaigns Director Craig Bennett said: "The only way this plant will be built is if the government hands over a blank cheque from UK taxpayers to French developers, EDF.

"The most cost-effective way to cut carbon and keep the lights on is a combination of energy efficiency and investing in renewables."

Hinkley Point C Hinkley Point C is set to take between 8 and 10 years to become fully operational. It will be made up of two nuclear reactors and will be built next to Hinkley Point A and B.
Sea wall at Hinkley Point C The land will need to be flattened and then the sea wall will be built. After this, excavation work can start to lay the foundations of the nuclear plant including two underground 3km tunnels for the cooling water.
Turbine hall The building of the two reactors will be staggered with the first reactor expected to be operational in about eight years' time (2021).
Turbine hall The other aspects of the build include the turbine halls, standby power generators and a pumping station for the cooling water, interim waste storage facilities as well as a visitors' centre.
Workers' campus (artist impression) Workers' accommodation will be built across three sites, with two in Bridgwater and a third on site. Other infrastructure includes building two park and ride sites and developing Combwich Wharf.
View of Hinkley Point C with Hinkley Point A and B in the background The power station is expected to provide up to 25,000 jobs during the lifetime of the project and once built it will provide between 700-800 full-time jobs.

Hinkley C would be one of the UK's biggest infrastructure projects for years with 5,600 workers on site at the peak of construction.

Unite's national officer for energy Kevin Coyne, said the decision to grant consent was a "massive boost for jobs".

But Dr Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, warned of a potential shortage of skilled engineers needed to build the plant.

"More needs to be done to increase the number of people choosing engineering as a career to overcome a skills shortage," he said.

"Over the next 10 years, the UK needs to be recruiting about 87,000 engineers a year, but worryingly we are currently producing just 46,000 engineers a year."

Hinkley Point C will be the third nuclear plant at the site.

Hinkley A, which is now being decommissioned, began generating in 1965 and was closed down in 1999. Hinkley B, which started generating in 1976, is due to be turned off in 2023.

The last nuclear plant built in the UK was Sizewell B in Suffolk. Building work for the plant, near Leiston, began in 1988 and it started operating seven years later.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    I have to say this is the reason the 'National Debt' aka Govt's credit card should be used full tilt, build 25 reactors in the UK make us totally self sufficient in Leccy. Set a min price to cover eventual decomissioning and interest+ cap on the debt needed. OH wait thats investment.. dont we borrow to pay our welfare bill and bail out banks?

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    How many of the ConDems have shares in EDF or the nuclear industry? Where is the waste going to be stored or reprocessed?
    Why is there not more effort into looking at tidal power, a constant and renewable source of energy?
    If these plants are so safe, why not build more in the south east of England, near the population which uses most of the energy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    Cyclic climate change has altered the weather in the past and our perception on fossil fuels has changed over the last thirty years. Whilst technology is great, it also has it downsides. The 'money spinner' lies within the truths of science and the bureaucracy of politics, none of which we will know for sure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    I hope they took into account even the sightliest chance of it been hit by a tsunami generated by a quake along Mid-Atlantic Ridge? The chance may well be very remote, but still. Fukushima should have taught us all a good lesson.

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    Very disappointing that a French company is building this power station.
    I hope that British companies build more nuclear power stations in the future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    This new development will provide 7% of the UK's electricity generation capacity. So they need to agree to build a few more and quickly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 572.

    What are 25,000 jobs compared to the much greater risk to the lives of many times that number? Wildlife, foodchain, human health all put at risk, as proven by nuclear disaster only two years ago. Disgusting.

    The Fukushima plant also claimed it was absolutely safe andlook what happened there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.

    4 Minutes ago
    #524 Yep, the Germans are replacing their nuclear plants with coal burners, with only about 100 times....
    Wrong! Germany has been investing in solar, wind and EfW for years. Fukishima was a convenient reason to get rid of an uneconomic source ofelectricity. They're not investing in new coal....

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    542 AlHuEWI
    "Uranium-235 is set to run out within 80 years if current extraction rates continue."

    I believe that oft-quoted calculation is flawed as it assumes all power comes directly from U-235 fission. All modern reactors can recycle spent fuel several times, which gives us over 200 years of uranium.
    Hopefully by then we'll have fusion, and there's always thorium which is gaining popularity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    547.Its All Pants
    All major contracts within the EU have to be published in the OJEC Journel and have to be available to all EU members. You have to be able to demonstrate you have not put National interests above EU wide interests when evaluating and awarding contracts. I doubt there is a UK Company with the requisit skills to build a nuclear generation plant now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    559. MiBen137
    what I dont understand is our MP's why is this job going to the French, do we not have anyone here in the UK that can build and run such a plant.
    Not really. The last one built in the UK was Sizewell B in the early 90s. The French get 75% of their power from nuclear so have been building plenty. Rolls Royce in derby build little submarine reactors but they're not the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    Drunken Hobo

    Why do people accept the pitfalls of others yet have such fear over nuclear?


    Because they don't understand it. It's all a bit hocus-pocus to them and scary. People have ever feared what they do not understand. Now digging a lump of coal and buring it, they understand that. So even though mining is hazardous, they don't mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.


    “We know” of 85years worth of uranium 235

    that’s because nobody’s been looking for it for the last 30 years

    Even if there was really no more to be found then we could still operate nuclear power plants by using “breeder reactors”

    Nuclear power stations can run on uranium 238 enriched with plutonium, a good use of old nuclear weapons

    Nuclear fuel will not run out

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    If we would just stop letting 500,000 people move to this country every year then perhaps we wouldn't need quite so much energy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    Contn. of 540.....Repeal the utterly suicidal Climate Change Act.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    "So i understand
    risks of the stuff"

    "Risks" depend on where "the stuff" is, what kind, how much, how contained, situated, potentially 'targeted', subject to what kinds & levels of 'eventuality', SuperMac might have said

    When 'all technicalities' adduced, comes 'point of choice'

    There's the rub, the ground for suspicion, our LACK of individual freedom of conscience, at EVERY level

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    Nuclear is part of complex energy solution, also including green and fossil. Its reputation should not be confused with nuclear weapons.

    On a ligther note: what do nuclear scientists eat for lunch? Fission chips.

  • rate this

    Comment number 561.

    @ 536. kiwigib

    Wouldn't say I was a great fan of Tony Blair. I think the term Tories covers both him and Cameron. Why do we let the French control our electricity supply? Do you think they would let a British company build a nuclear power station in France? No chance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    Also (and I'm happy to stand corrected) isn't it funny how when nuclear power is mentioned there's a radiation scare...

    Perhaps we shouldn't notify the public of Radon Gas or atmospheric radiation levels when at altitude during flying to your holiday destination?

    I have decided that our greatest export is scaremongering!

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    I have no objection to nuclear power plants, what I dont understand is our MP's why is this job going to the French, do we not have anyone here in the UK that can build and run such a plant.


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