Hinkley C: who shoulders the costs if construction stalls?

“Energy secretary Amber Rudd (Letters, 21 April) clearly has the gift of clairvoyance. She says that no liabilities would fall to the UK taxpayer or consumer should Hinkley Point C be cancelled. Who, pray, would foot the bill to complete the project should EDF withdraw after a few years of construction when cost and time overruns became apparent, as they have with other projects in France and Finland?

And assuming the plant ever began generating its costly electricity, who would be responsible for the waste management costs, the size of which can only be estimated since the location, depth, technical details about cladding, inventory, or even if there will ever be a repository, remain stubbornly vague and could yet result in indefinite storage on site? Spent nuclear fuel from Hinkley C or Sizewell C would be on their respective sites for an estimated 160 years. Who will take title to hundreds of tonnes of spent nuclear fuel if, as is likely, within that time period, EDF disappears?

As usual, the public purse would be required to bail out a private venture. Rudd’s claim of “no liabilities” is as irresponsible as a short-term response to legitimate concerns as government’s energy policy will prove to be in the long term. Better to cancel Hinkley, Sizewell and all the other nuclear plans now while some semblance of energy policy credibility remains, than to see it unravel in the most embarrassing way over the coming decades, leaving communities like ours to carry the can for government obsession with a nuclear fix.
Pete Wilkinson
Chairperson, Together Against Sizewell C”

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