Nuclear industry at risk over ministers' dithering, experts warn (The Telegraph)

Tony Lodge writes for the Sunday Telegraph on how an escalating tax on carbon emissions and lack of nuclear plants being built,  could lead Britain to be stuck with the levy but few alternative sources of energy Sunday 21 April 2013.

To view the article, vist The Telegraph Website

“Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, 18 leading nuclear scientists say plans to build five new plants by 2030 could come crashing down because of a lack of progress on the first of the projects.

They say a “fleet” of new power stations could lower household bills, provide a source of low-carbon energy and position Britain as a world leader in the nuclear market. The apparent stalling of talks with the French company EDF Energy over its Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset “undermines” this ambition and could deter investors, the scientists say.

The group, which includes Professor Sir David King, a former chief scientific adviser to the Government, warns it is “increasingly concerned at the apparent slow progress of negotiations”. The deal is “about more than an isolated project” and plans to grow Britain’s nuclear industry “could be undermined if a deal on the pioneer project is not resolved satisfactorily”.

Their remarks were backed by MPs who said the delay could lead to an exodus of nuclear experts.

Tim Yeo, the head of the Commons energy and climate change select committee, said: “There are a significant number of jobs [at stake]. We need to rekindle this industry if we are not to lose the skills we have in the nuclear energy sector.”

Tony Lodge, of the Centre for Policy Studies, said an escalating tax on carbon emissions was introduced this month and if nuclear plants were not built, Britain would be stuck with the levy but few alternative sources of energy.

Last month ministers pushed back the timetable for developing 16 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power at five new plants from 2025 to 2030. The first is a £14billion, 3.2GW twin-reactor plant at Hinkley Point but the Government appears to be in deadlock with EDF over the “strike price”, the rate for electricity from the plant which will be fixed for 30 years and subsidised by levies on household energy bills.

Albert Owen, the Labour MP and member of the Energy Select Committee, said the situation “doesn’t paint a good picture” and “is bound to cause concerns” for future developers.

“More importantly it’s going to create a vacuum that will be filled by doubters,” he added. “There is a good opportunity here for Britain which is why it is incumbent on the Government to move forward and not to stall as it appears to be.” John Robertson, also a Labour member of the Energy Select Committee, agreed progress should have been faster but added that EDF Energy may be equally to blame.

“I think they are using these people to force the Government to make a decision on the strike price,” he said.

“It is not to say they should not have moved earlier, that is not true, but I don’t think EDF are being completely straight on this. I would say ‘a plague a’both their houses’ would be a fair assessment.”

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman claimed progress was being made in the talks “but we need to be sure that any deal is right for the UK consumer”. EDF Energy declined to comment.”

To view the article, vist The Telegraph Website

Date Added: Sunday 21st April 2013