And yet our Local Enterprise Partnership and its devolution deal puts it at the heart of their plans – not surprising given the nuclear interests of several LEP members:
” … Hinkley C had been described as “the most expensive object on Earth” many months before the National Audit Office (NAO) revealed that subsidies would be nearly five times as big as had been previously advertised. The avalanche of subsidies has produced an ongoing state aid dispute with the UK launched by Austria, a new state aid investigation by the European commission into the reactor builder Areva, and a potential state aid dispute over France’s plans to make up EDF’s credit shortfall on the project.
Hinkley C has now become so uneconomic that it has been condemned in editorials in the normally pro-nuclear Times, Telegraph and Mail, and many EDF executives and employees think it might be a bad enough plan to completely destroy the state-owned utility.
On Thursday EDF’s board will make a widely trailed decision on whether to proceed with this “investment”. After years of delay, this unseemly hurry looks a bit like panic.
The tide has been turning against Hinkley ever since the problems at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flammanville in France, Hinkley’s elder siblings, became horribly apparent. Now, with a new UK government not so publicly committed to the project, EDF may be feeling that its chances of getting Hinkley built are likely to diminish even more quickly. Osborne seemed willing to countenance almost anything in his desperation to get his legacy built, but Philip Hammond might look at thte figures and the alternatives, and start looking for a way out.
To be clear, the Hinkley subsidies are not bungs to power brokers or inexplicable government largesse; Hinkley’s problems are so severe and so numerous that it requires potentially illegally high levels of state support in order for it to be built. Listing them all – the legal risks, the engineering risks, the liability risks, the credit risks, the safety risks – would take so long there would probably be some new ones before I’d finished. But they all spring from a reactor design, which has so far proved impossible to make work, and has even been described as “unconstructable” by an engineering professor.”