‘IT IS foolish to rely on foreign companies and foreign governments to keep Britain’s lights on and our economy powered when we could easily be fully energy self-sufficient,’ GMB union said yesterday.
GMB warned of a looming UK energy crisis after plans for the £16 billion new nuclear reactor at Wylfa in Wales went belly up, with Unite warning that there is a real threat of blackouts in the future. Japanese firm Hitachi announced yesterday morning that its board in Tokyo had decided it is suspending all work on the new plant on Anglesey in Wales.
Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary for Energy said: ‘Hitachi’s announcement, coming so soon after the Moorside fiasco, raises the very real prospect of a UK energy crisis. ‘As coal is taken out of the equation in the next few years and the existing nuclear fleet reaches the end of its natural life after 50 years, decisions are already long overdue for construction to be completed in time and not leave the country at risk of power cuts or reliant on imported electricity, much of it from unreliable regimes.
‘The government must act and step in now, pick up the reins and take whatever funding stake and leadership is necessary, to ensure Wylfa goes ahead on time. The NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) has the nuclear expertise and could be immediately redesignated to do this.
‘New nuclear is almost zero carbon and because it produces energy 24/7 it is a perfect complement to wind and solar – which everyone knows don’t work all the time. ‘Once again, this tragic farce shows it is foolish to rely on foreign companies and foreign governments to keep Britain’s lights on and our economy powered when we could easily be fully energy self sufficient.’
Unite the union pinpointed a number of factors that are leading to a crisis about how the energy needs of businesses and households will be met in the decades ahead.
- The withdrawal of Toshiba from the Moorside nuclear power station project in Cumbria in November. • The controversy over the financing of the Hinkley Point nuclear in Somerset being built by French company EDF, with a stake from Chinese state-owned investor CGN.
- Security concerns over future Chinese involvement in the UK nuclear programme. • The reluctance of the Tory government to commit to large-scale funding of infrastructure projects.
Unite national officer for energy Peter McIntosh said: ‘The decision taken today by Hitachi is a disaster for the UK economy and future energy needs of the country. It is the latest chapter in the sorry saga of recent UK energy policy.
‘There are very real concerns over how we will keep the lights on for industry and consumers in the coming decades. ‘Government energy policy in recent times has been littered with controversy and confusion from Toshiba pulling out of Moorside to the flawed financing model for Hinkley Point – and now Wylfa.’