The future of Hinkley Point was in the public eye today in central Bridgwater as anti-nuclear protesters took to the streets to add their weight to the growing pressure on EDF to abandon their £18.6 bn C Station project.
The giant French energy company EDF is facing the decision to either cancel or delay building the power station as the board of directors of this largely French state-owned company, face up to changing economic realities around the world including the slow down of the Chinese economy (the Chinese had been expected to invest £6.2bn) alongside increased concerns about safety.
Will they or won’t they…..
The project is supposed to provide 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity by 2025 and is a cornerstone of David Camerons ‘keep the lights on’ strategy which includes a commitment by the British Government to pay double the market rate for the station’s electricity.
EDF, with debts already of €37bn are said to be having difficulty raising the £12.4bn needed to build the two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) in Somerset. Not only this but their share price has fallen in 2 years from €29 in 2014 to €11.87 .
Today anti nuclear demonstrators rallied in Kings Square opposite the EDF HQ before moving to Angel Place where Westover resident Allan Jefferey handed in a letter to the EDF shop addressed to the Board of Directors asking them to cancel the project.
Allan said We are calling on EDF to scrap these plans as soon as possible so that communities in Somerset can get on with planning a sustainable energy future. The Government should stop taking UK energy policy down this nuclear cul-de-sac and get on with implementing a sensible renewable energy strategy.”
Exactly how ‘imminent’ is this decision?
Stop Hinkley Spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said: “By our reckoning this is the ninth time EDF has said a final investment decision is imminent, and then nothing has happened. With all the problems that EDF has – the need to spend €55bn upgrading old French reactors; find €1.4bn to buy Areva and increasing waste disposal costs, I really can’t see how the situation will be any different by 16th February”
Town ‘never given a choice’
Leader of Bridgwater Town Council Brian Smedley attended the demonstration to talk to the campaigners and said afterwards. “The point about this whole nuclear issue is that Bridgwater was never given the choice. The planning decisions were all taken Nationally and when we were consulted on how to spend the community mitigation money and we said ‘a by-pass please’ they said we couldn’t have that. So our default position has been just to respond to whatever gets offered to us, monitoring and criticising where appropriate their so called junction improvements, bringing in their Police guys for questioning over our concerns at increased public order issues and attempting to access any community money they’ve offered to the town. If Hinkley C doesn’t happen, well, we won’t get a vote in that either.”