There’s going to be a lot going on down at Hinkley Point this weekend. The Stop New Nuclear Alliance is organising a mass trespass, as well as a day of action, a double die-in and various other activities – most legal, some not. Sadly, I won’t be joining them, as I’m not in the country, but I do seriously hope that there will be many thousands taking part.
For two reasons. First, because EDF (the company that wants to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point) continues to behave in an unprincipled and bullying manner, on the assumption that the whole process can just be bulldozed through, regardless of local sensibilities, proper planning procedures and so on.
Second, this is absolutely the right time to be shouting from the rooftops the fact that the Coalition Government’s ambitions for a new nuclear programme are evaporating in front of our eyes.
Now that EDF has declared its hand on how much of a hand out it will need to deliver reactors at both Hinkley Point and Sizewell, the full economic reality of what a new programme would entail is getting clearer and clearer.
Having started out by saying it would need no subsidy whatsoever, EDF is now saying it won’t be able to make profit out of a new nuclear programme at anything less than £140/£150 per Mega Watt Hour (MWh). By way of comparison, the Department of Energy itself reckons that offshore wind will be able to perform profitably at no more than £100 per MWh – and that’s the most expensive of all the major renewable energy sources.
So that puts nuclear in a league of its own in terms of subsidies. And that puts the Lib Dems in a league of their own in terms of super-liars.
Ed Davey, Lib Dem Secretary of State in DECC is still claiming that the new nuclear programme can be delivered without any public subsidy. (That was the condition which persuaded Lib Dems to buy into the Conservative Party’s pro-nuclear position when the Coalition came together).
Well, sorry, Ed, but you know just how much of a lie that now is. It doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with the French, the Chinese or the Russians, the size of the begging bowl will be more or less the same. As will the size of the lie.
So I hope my Lib Dem colleagues will be watching carefully what happens down in Somerset this weekend – and reflecting a little what happens when real anger about the nuclear stitch-up moves out from Hinkley to voters across the country.
For further details about what’s happening at Hinkley Point this weekend, contact the Stop New Nuclear Alliance – website: http://stopnewnuclear.org.uk, Twitter: @stopnukepower, phone: 07527-219476