THE City of London and the government were shaken yesterday after PM May postponed a decision to go ahead with the Hinkley Point nuclear power station until the autumn.
This was after a stormy EDF Board Meeting on Thursday evening in France voted 10-7 to proceed with the risky £18bn scheme which some board members thought would bankrupt the energy giant.
After the meeting EDF officials immediately travelled to Somerset to sign contracts with the UK government, only to find that May’s Business Secretary Greg Clark had cancelled the signing and the press conference that was to follow.
They returned home as did the Chinese officials that had arrived for the signing.
The capitalist press had to change its headlines overnight exposing the crisis of the government and its media support.
CND yesterday called for the project to be cancelled, with Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, saying: ‘It’s hugely expensive. The National Audit Office says the government will have to subsidise this nuclear power station to the tune of £30 billion over the next 25 years. That’s a £30 billion payment to the French state in addition to the market rate paid for electricity by consumers.
‘Nuclear power is dangerous. During normal operation cancer clusters have been observed by scientists around power stations. There is the risk of nuclear accidents and disasters like Fukushima, and there is still no safe way to store nuclear waste.
Tackling nuclear waste ultimately falls to national governments at huge expense.
‘The government needs to admit it’s got this decision wrong. We demand that the Hinkley Point deal is scrapped and the plans for a new generation of nuclear power plants are stopped.’
GMB national secretary for energy Justin Bowden was however furious. He said yesterday: ‘Theresa May’s decision to review the go-ahead on Hinkley Point C is bewildering and bonkers. After years of procrastination, what is required is decisive action not dithering and more delay. This unnecessary hesitation is putting finance for the project in doubt and 25,000 new jobs at risk immediately after Brexit.
‘It is a gross error of judgment and must be reversed. Building Hinkley will not on its own make up for successive governments’ failure to have in place a coherent energy policy, but it is a very important step along that road. And, as GMB has been warning now for months, the country’s energy capacity is already so fragile that if we have a cold winter there is a high likelihood we will experience power cuts.’
Also urging the Tory government to press ahead, Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said: ‘This long-awaited decision by EDF is historic and the British government must now as a matter of urgency sign the relevant contracts so work can get started as soon as possible.’
He stressed ‘Our members are shovel ready to start work on the country’s first nuclear power station for a generation.’ He instructed: ‘Theresa May’s new government must now give the final go-ahead.’ The Unite union protested that it had already negotiated agreements covering the future Hinkley Point C workforce.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The government is dithering over a major infrastructure project which would deliver thousands of quality jobs in low-carbon energy. This is not the right signal to send to investors after the Brexit vote. Our economy needs certainty, not vacillation. Of course, we must ensure that any project on this scale gives good value for the taxpayer, but successive Conservative-led governments have had years to get this decision right.’
Barry Gardiner MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy Secretary, said: ‘The Tories are in chaos. Theresa May must come clean. Is she delaying a decision to renegotiate the appalling deal for bill-payers she previously agreed as a member of the cabinet? Or is she trying to kill off the whole project?’
The crisis government of May, forged by the decision of the Tory 1922 Committee not to have a leadership election, is now in crisis over the lack of a guaranteed affordable power supply for the UK. With massive power cuts ahead the only solution is to reopen the pits and the nationalised mining industry to produce a guaranteed supply of clean coal!