Planning consent for Hinkley Point C welcome but delay in fixing price for nuclear power bad for investment and jobs in UK says GMB.
While dealing with nationalised French supplier the Government should also re-task a UK Nuclear Development Authority to bring on stream some of the nuclear power stations we need says GMB.
GMB, the union for energy workers, commented on the decision to by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to approve a Development Consent Order (DCO) to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. See notes to editors for a media briefing by EDF on the project.
Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for Energy and Utilities, said “This decision is a welcome and necessary step forward.
However the delay in agreeing the price to be paid for electricity to be generated in the fleet of nuclear power stations we need is very damaging for investment, jobs and for a low carbon economy in the UK.
Earlier this month the Energy and Climate Change Committee called on Minister to urgently come up with a contingency plan in case the nuclear industry does not deliver the new power stations we need.
The state is required to guarantee the levels of returns on investment for electricity suppliers. Since this is so why not go the whole hog and have a fully accountable nationalised delivery body particularly in the nuclear sector.
While seeking agreement with this nationalised French power supplier the Government should also re-task the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and re-name it as the UK Nuclear Development Authority to bring on stream some of the nuclear power stations we need. ”
Contact: Gary Smith GMB 07710 618 909 or 0207 391 6700 or GMB Press Office, Rose Conroy on 07974 251823 or Steve Pryle on 07921 289880.
Notes to editors
Media briefing by EDF on the project.
On Tuesday March 19, a decision is due on consent to construct a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. The consent requires the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to approve a Development Consent Order (DCO) to allow construction. The decision follows three years of in-depth consultation by EDF Energy with local communities and a year long examination by the UK Planning Inspectorate.
The process was an immense undertaking which included the submission of 55,000 pages of detailed evidence, more than 100 public meetings and exhibitions as well as individual responses to 33,000 comments received from the public and stakeholders. It will be the first time the 2008 Planning Act has been used for a major UK infrastructure project.
The DCO decision follows: approval of the reactor design by UK regulators - a process which required 850,000 hours of engineering work; the granting of a site licence; and the granting of environmental permits.Hinkley Point C is also the first nuclear project to have a Funded Decommissioning Programme which requires the operator of a new nuclear plant to meet the full costs of decommissioning and its share of waste disposal.
What is Hinkley Point C?
It is a proposed 3.2 GW nuclear power plant with two EPR reactors (each of 1.6GW) capable of producing 7% of the UK's electricity - enough for 5 million UK homes - and will operate for at least 60 years. By contrast the Hinkley Point B station's two reactors produce around 880MW - so the new station will produce almost four times more electricity.
EPR reactors are an evolution of the pressurised water reactor technology - as used at Sizewell B and in 58 nuclear reactors owned by EDF in France. They have enhanced safety features with quadruple safety systems. They are more efficient and produce less long-lived radioactive waste compared with existing water reactors. They also use less uranium.
The Hinkley Point C construction site covers 175 hectares.
Main earthworks will require the excavation of 4m cubic metres of earth- equivalent to the volume of 1,300 Olympic swimming pools
It will use 3m tonnes of concrete - 75 times more than is in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. It will use 230,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement, enough for 1,900 km of railway track that could stretch from London to Rome.
Detailed work has taken place to maximise the proportion of the project which can be built in the UK. Studies show that 57% of construction value could be supplied in the UK.
There are many nuclear projects underway around the world and more being planned. Boosting UK capability through Hinkley Point C will open up opportunities around the world for UK companies.
In 2012, nuclear met around 18% of UK electricity demand. EDF Energy operates 15 reactors across the UK. Nuclear is a low-carbon energy source - even allowing for construction the carbon content is about the same as on-shore wind - and it provides a reliable and secure supply. Hinkley Point C will avoid 10m tonnes of Co2 emissions a year - equivalent to over 40% of all the HGV's on UK roads.
By 2025 more than 40% of the UK's older power stations are expected to close when demand is expected to be rising globally and North Sea oil and gas will remain in decline. Hinkley Point C will help meet the UK's future energy needs.
Hinkley Point C would be the first new nuclear station to be built since Sizewell B in 1995.
The project will employ 25,000 people during its construction, and 900 once completed. More than 1,200 Somerset firms and 550 nationally have registered a formal interest in working on the project.