French union refuses to back Hinkley C

A French trade union said it would not back construction of the $26 billion, dual-unit Hinkley Point C nuclear project in the UK due to financial issues.

The union, Confédération française de l’encadrement-Confédération générale des cadres (CFE-CGC), said plant owner EDF’s financial woes and environmentalist opposition could end the project, according to several news reports.

EDF’s chiefs in both France and the UK, as well as the French and UK governments, have all backed the project to build two European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs) to generate 3,200-MW of electricity.

Chinese nuclear company CGN has committed to fund one-third of Hinkley Point C. EDF planned to have a final investment decision on the project in December, but the 60-day consultation with the union could potentially delay the decision, the articles said.

Wainhomes, Feniton: another second chance, and another and another …

Where and when do ” second chances” end? From a correspondent:

You may recall the following item published some time ago:

Today the time allowed for some of the work to be done expires and yet, as expected by many of the villagers, nothing has even been started. The question is: will EDDC planning now actually throw the legal book at Wainhomes or, as I suspect, give them yet more time.

A heavy hand surely is now required since being ‘nice’ clearly doesn’t work.”

EDDC, heavy hand, developers – dream on!

Cornwall Council: scrutiny, what scrutiny?

An internal report, seen by the BBC, shows Cornwall Council has issued more than 500 contracts with a value of £145m without tendering them .” …

… An internal report seen by the BBC reveals that, since 2009, the authority has granted more than 500 so-called “exemptions” with a contract value in excess of £145m. There are strict rules on exempting contracts from tendering – and the document suggests these aren’t always being properly followed.

The council said that, ideally, it limited the use of exemptions and it recognised their use retrospectively should be avoided. It added it was taking steps to address this.”

BBC Devon Live website headlines today.

Doesn’t auger well for devolution scrutiny in The Dutchy!

The housing crisis – who is to blame?

“Labour, Conservative and even Coalition Governments have failed to solve the UK housing crisis. Here’s why.

Britain’s housing crisis is nothing new. We’ve had a shortage of homes for decades, and the problem is no closer to being fixed today.

The problem is that those with the power to do so might actually be worse off if they succeeded in meeting our housing needs. …”

Hinkley C: what happens to nuclear waste? We are not allowed to know

“A furious row has broken out after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) refused to disclose the arrangement with EDF for dealing with radioactive waste at the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.

The information commissioner’s office has turned down a freedom of information (FoI) request for state aid arrangements between the UK and the European commission to be made public.

The FoI complainant, David Lowry, has launched an appeal, claiming it is in the public interest for British citizens to be able to judge whether their government had made the right decision about the new reactors in Somerset.

Lowry, a British-based senior research fellow with the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in the US, said: “I do not believe the balance of judgment should be in favour of a foreign company, EDF Energy, who will potentially make huge multibillion-pound financial gain from the continued non-disclosure, and hence non scrutiny, over myself as a British tax and electricity bill payer.”

The government said that anyone building new reactors in Britain must manage and pay for the cost of handling waste products, unlike the existing situation where all radioactive materials are effectively dealt with through the public purse via the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

However, although the operator must agree to take responsibility for the spent fuel and other radioactive waste, the cost is expected to be passed on to the domestic electricity user through higher bills. …

… “If Hinkley is such a good deal, it should be no problem for the government to release the information to prove it. Their failure to do so leaves us to believe that their assumptions are correct – it’s a terrible deal for bill payers and they simply don’t know what to do with the nuclear waste.” …

You want a green environment? Get insured …

“The UK could develop a more flexible approach to environmental protection free of “spirit-crushing” Brussels directives if it votes to leave the EU, the farming minister, George Eustice, has said.

Speaking to the Guardian, the pro-Brexit minister said a leave vote in the 23 June referendum would free up a £2bn green dividend that could be spent on insurance schemes and incentives for farmers.

Environmental laws that have helped protect endangered species and clean up dirty beaches are seen one of the key achievements of the EU, but Eustice sought to reassure green-minded voters that the UK could develop better protections by going it alone. …

… One of the original authors of EU environmental legislation was Stanley Johnson, Boris’s father, who now co-chairs Environmentalists for Europe. He said of Eustice’s proposal: “I am absolutely shocked and horrified at what looks like a no-holds-barred attack by the Brexiteers on an agreed consensus that the environment benefits from a common approach.

“Don’t tell me that a new Brexit-led British government is going to put environmental regulations at top of its pile on June 24. It is not going to happen.”

The European commission is reviewing the birds and habitats directives – which define Europe’s conservation strategy – and is under unprecedented public pressure not to water them down.

The origin of the “fitness check” lies in a domestic review instigated by George Osborne in 2011, when he told parliament that the “gold-plating” of EU habitat rules was imposing “ridiculous costs” on business.

Martin Harper, the conservation director of the RSPB, said: “These nature directives have been the cornerstone of nature conservation in Europe since coming into force. Not only have they improved the fortunes of threatened species but they are essential if we want to meet our international biodiversity commitments.”

On pesticides, Eustice said the EU’s precautionary principle needed to be reformed in favour of a US-style risk-based approach, allowing faster authorisation.

“A precautionary approach is the right thing to do but it should be based on realistic assessments of risk and not just theoretical hazards,” he said. “That is the wrong way to go about it.”

The principle has underpinned bans on GM foods, neonicotonoid inseciticides linked to bee colony declines and endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The marine strategy directive would also be scrapped, Eustice said. He cited a dispute with Brussels over the UK’s failure to designate protected marine areas for harbour porpoises as an example of over-regulation, when dolphin-repelling electronic devices could have been used on nets instead.

However, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said electronic pingers could already be used under current EU nature laws, which also protect porpoises from trawling, dredging, pile driving and noise from military sonars.

Clive Lewis, the shadow energy and climate change spokesperson, said: “It is absurd to suggest that Brexit could be good for the environment when the major challenges we face, not least the risk of catastrophic climate change, are international by their nature.”

Save Britain’s Heritage objects to Knowle PegasusLife development

Click to access save-britains-heritage-objection-to-knowle-planning-application-may-2016.pdf

Original article:

Details of the Knowle Planning Application by Pegasus Life, May 2016, from the EDDC website:

Planning Application
16/0872/MFUL | The construction of an assisted living community for older people comprising extra care units, staff accommodation and communal facilities, including a kitchen, restaurant/bar/cafe, a well-being suite comprising gym, treatment rooms and pool, a communal lounge and storage facilities; car parking for residents, visitors and staff of the assisted living community; comprehensive landscaping
comprising communal and private spaces; and associated groundworks.

Council Offices Knowle Sidmouth EX10 8HL
Reminder of Save Our Sidmouth initial reaction here:

Throwing away our heritage? London-based SAVE vehemently objects to plans for Knowle

Budleigh Salterton and its expensive homes

A comment just received: about the lack of affordable housing in Budleigh Salterton- one of the ten most expensive seaside towns in England:

“Funny you should say this. The developer- Badger Homes- of the Deepways site in Budleigh Salterton with outline planning approval has applied to reduce the approved 50% affordable homes to 30%.

The original Design and Access statement says:

“the landowner is a retired doctor who would like to see housing for local people”……………………………………… “the landowner found a developer with the experience and the FUNDING to achieve such a project”.”

Yeah, right.


This is a long article about the democratic deficit in the United States, but its conclusion could be said to apply to us all:

” … It is time to start talking seriously again about a grassroots politics that aims to build a broad consensus, give priority to long-term face-to-face projects with physical communities offline, and recruit skillful and honest politicians to connect people to places where decisions are made – [Bernie] Sanders is one of them. We can use social media and the momentum built by his campaign for this, but the main goal should be to harness the unprecedented explosion of anger and hope into political actions that will bring tangible change in people’s lives.

We hear a lot about all kinds of experiments to address the democratic deficit in decision-making mechanisms – from direct action to digital democracy and more. But few talk about a more profound crisis: our lives are filled with alienation and isolation, our communities have been broken, and impersonal forms of social interaction are replacing personal ones. Meeting with other citizens outside our close circles is good for democracy. But we should be skeptical of impromptu mass gatherings and social media debates as the only places to make vital decisions that will affect our lives for years to come.

We need to develop democratic spaces that address common national and global challenges, but are grounded in local interactions and foster bonds among people in the physical world. New technologies can hugely improve our lives, but ultimately society is made of humans. The kind of human interactions we foster make all the difference in this world – and the next.”