Nuclear energy price falls affect EDF (except at Hinkley C) so ramping up renewable energy (except at Hinkley C!)

“French state-owned energy firm EDF reported falling profits, including a downturn in the UK due to falling prices for nuclear power, improved energy efficiency among its household customers and the slide in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote.

Profits in the UK division, which includes EDF Energy, slumped by a third to €1.035 (£920m) as sales dwindled by €579m to €8.68bn, partly because UK customers pay their bills in pounds but the company reports its results in euros.

EDF said the decline of the pound against the euro had cost it €608m.

The company has faced criticism over delays and the cost of its £20bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. However, it has blamed a 12% fall in nuclear energy prices in the UK, where it is the market leader.

Revenues were depressed by lower home energy consumption among customers, with usage falling 1.9% due to “milder weather and rising energy efficiency”.

EDF, which is majority-owned by the French government, reported a 2.2% decline in overall revenues to €69.6bn, with profits down 16% to €13.7bn, excluding the impact of asset sales.

It said group results had declined due to lower prices in almost all of the regions where it operates and an exodus of nearly 1 million customers.

It was also affected by lower nuclear and hydroelectric output in its domestic market, where it is the dominant supplier with more than 85% market share.

Last year the company had unplanned outages at some of its 58 French nuclear plants, where reactors had to be shut down for safety reasons.

It lost 960,000 customers, shaving €341m off profits, blaming the exodus on heightened competition, including in the UK.

Chief executive and chairman Jean-Bernard Levy said the group’s profitability in the face of a “difficult market context” was evidence of EDF’s financial strength, adding that he expects a “rebound” in 2018.

He said the company would launch an “unprecedented” ramp-up of renewable energy this year, as France looks to reduce nuclear’s share of power generation from 75% to 50% by 2025.”

Clinton Devon Estates PR team working overtime on Blackhill Quarry!

Sent to Friends of Pebblebed Heaths

“Dear Friends,

Many of you will have seen the recent coverage in local newspapers and on social media concerning a planning application lodged by Clinton Devon Estates for the former quarry plant area adjacent to Blackhill Quarry, enabling a nearby engineering firm to expand.

Unfortunately lots of inaccurate rumours were also circulating.

As you know the primary aim of the Pebblebed Heath Conversation Trust is to ensure threatened heathland ecosystems are protected, to ensure all wildlife associated with this habitat flourishes, to protect public access and encourage responsible public enjoyment of the heaths.

The most important conservation partner of the Trust is the public and we strive to keep our Friends of the Commons well-informed, so the Trust continues to develop with public support.

Our staff live in nearby villages and understand the issues local people have. Our neighbours are concerned about development, volume and types of traffic, change of use in rural areas and we recognise these topics can bring about many questions as well as strong feelings and differences of opinion.

We hope by providing the facts of this complex issue, especially given the amount of misinformation and speculation there has already been, you will have more of the information needed to make up your own mind.

Please take time to view the maps, statements and explanations we have included here, plus links to the EDDC planning application, where you can read and see what others think.

Blackhill Quarry has no statutory conservation designations, although it is registered as a County Wildlife Site. Attempting to restore heathland on industrial sites can be extremely problematic due to the raised nutrient enrichment of the land due to lime. Similar issues are already the case on East Budleigh common, where the remains of buildings from Dalditch Camp, make management of this site, extremely difficult. To mitigate the loss of 1.09 ha heathland (from total area of 63 ha for the quarry) not restored from hard-standing, we would be looking to create significantly more heathland and of a better quality. This is likely to be through the conversion of existing coniferous plantations to heathland. Our goal is certainly for there to be a biodiversity uplift above and beyond that proposed under the existing restoration scheme.

Later in the year we will organise a visit to Blackhill so you can see the restoration work in progress and ask any questions. In the meantime please contact any one of the team if you have any further queries.

The Pebblebeds Team”

The communication continues with some extraordinary reasons why CEE thinks the engineering works are a special case including:

* Specialising in steel fabrication and design, Blackhill Engineering has recently been involved in many prestigious projects including the design of flood defence gates for New York City Hospital, work for the European Space Agency and the pier at Hinkley Point for which Blackhill has been recognised with two awards from EDF Energy.
[aahhhh!!! now Owl understands!]

* The site proposed is currently covered in concrete and any restoration to high quality habitat will be problematic …”

Who knew that concrete couldn’t be so difficult to remove! If it’s THAT difficult perhaps we shouldn’t allow any development at all at this site since more and more concrete will be needed to expand it!

Hinkley C: whose Big Brother will be watching it?

“China planted bugs to spy on discussions at the glittering African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa that it built five years ago, it has been claimed.

The alleged hack was discovered when IT engineers investigated why the centre’s computer servers reached a peak for data activity between midnight and 2am. They found that the servers were connected to others in Shanghai, and were transferring information, according to an investigation by the French newspaper Le Monde.

Ethiopian cybersecurity experts found microphones hidden in desks and walls and at the time, last January, there were Chinese engineers in the building managing its computers.

African heads of state and AU civil servants remained unaware of the discovery, one AU official told the paper. “We have taken some steps to strengthen our cybersecurity,” he said. “We remain very exposed.”

The £141 million HQ was built and paid for by the Chinese in a symbol of the mutually beneficial friendship between the world’s youngest populations and one of its wealthiest nations.

The construction of buildings, roads, ports and railways across Africa, has helped China edge out former colonisers and western partners and gain pole position in the battle for Africa’s human capital and mineral wealth.

The revelation over the bugs came as African leaders and officials converge for the AU’s annual summit.

Kuang Weilin, China’s ambassador to the AU, called the claims “ridiculous and preposterous” and said their publication was sour grapes. “China-Africa relations have brought benefits and a lot of opportunities. Africans are happy with it. Others are not,” he said. “People in the West . . . are not used to it and they are not comfortable with this.”

Source: The Times (paywall)

“Disgraced Carillion chief now director of firm in charge of inspections at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station”

“Carillion – the firm handed millions in contracts by the Tories – has just gone into liquidation leaving thousands of employees and small businesses facing bankruptcy and redundancy.

In July last year, the man responsible for the debacle – incompetent former Group Chief Executive of Carillion Richard Howson – stood down and seemingly disappeared on the same day the company’s disastrous finances were revealed.

But only after paying himself £1.5 million in pay and tens of thousands in bonuses and perks and leaving the firm with a massive £800 million pension deficit and debts of £1.4 billion of course:

So where is Howson now?

Locked up in a monastery somewhere, contemplating his failures and atoning for his sins?

Surprise surprise.

Here he is, hidden away as a new director of engineering and technical services company Wood Group:

Wood Group has just won a lucrative contract to carry out inspections at the UK government’s new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant:$16m

Plymouth and Torbay to share some strategic planning functions – so where does LEP fit in?

So where does our Local Enterprise Partnership fit in with these emerging Strategic Planning areas of Plymouth/Torbay and Greater Exeter/East Devon/Mid Devon/Teignbridge Strategic Plan?

It’s all getting very confusing! Well, except that most of the LEP Devon and Somerset plans and money end up surprisingly close to Hinkley C!

“Plymouth and Torbay councils could share some planning services under plans to be discussed later in January.

Plymouth’s cabinet will discuss an “in principle agreement” looking at sharing some planning functions with Torbay Council on 16 January.

Torbay requested the partnership after a service review by Plymouth City Council last year made a number of recommendations.

Areas which could be covered under the arrangement include strategic and local planning, environmental policy, natural infrastructure and major developments.”

Another nuclear plant in financial meltdown

“The company behind one of Britain’s biggest nuclear power projects has plunged to a £266 million loss citing ‘uncertainties’ over its future and the viability of crucial technology.

Japanese firm Toshiba said the huge loss incurred by one of its UK subsidiaries was due to writing off hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in the proposed Moorside plant, in west Cumbria.

It is the latest sign of financial strain at the Tokyo-based firm amid wider concerns over the spiralling costs and catastrophic delays that have beset the UK’s nuclear industry. …

It was envisaged that new nuclear plants at Moorside, Hinkley Point and Wylfa in Anglesey would between them generate a fifth of the UK’s electricity.

This may still happen. But right now, nuclear firms are struggling with the expense, stringent regulatory hurdles and costly project delays – just as the cost of other forms of electricity fall.

Toshiba won the contract to build the nuclear power plant at Moorside, on land next to the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing site.

But it was forced in March to place its US nuclear division Westinghouse into bankruptcy protection. Last month, it said it would sell Westinghouse for £4 billion. Troubled Toshiba is now in talks to sell its interests in the Moorside project to Kepco, majority-owned by the South Korean government. …”