Problem with Hinkley C’s concrete base

EDF says the problem is limited to 150 cubic metres where pipes and cables are due to be laid. Weak, poor quality cleanliness and not wide enough.

Is Owl reassured? No. But our Local Enterprise Partnership, with its top-heavy nuclear interest Board members, will no doubt be …

Source: Times Business News (pay wall)

Hinkley C subsidising UK nuclear weapon industry

So NOW see just why our Local Enterprise Partnership – where many past and present board members have and had nuclear and arms industry interests – is pouring money into Hinkley C.

Scientists tell MPs government is using expensive power project to cross-subsidise military by maintaining nuclear skills

“The government is using the “extremely expensive” Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to cross-subsidise Britain’s nuclear weapon arsenal, according to senior scientists.

In evidence submitted to the influential public accounts committee (PAC), which is currently investigating the nuclear plant deal, scientists from Sussex University state that the costs of the Trident programme could be “unsupportable” without “an effective subsidy from electricity consumers to military nuclear infrastructure”. …

“What our research suggests is that British low-carbon energy strategies are more expensive than they need to be, in order to maintain UK military nuclear infrastructures,” said Stirling.

“And without assuming the continuation of an extremely expensive UK civil nuclear industry, it is likely that the costs of Trident would be significantly greater.”

The Hinkley Point project has been criticised for its huge cost. The French electricity company EDF is currently in the early stages of constructing the plant near Bridgwater, Somerset, in partnership with the China General Nuclear Power Group.

The government has agreed a minimum price of £92.50 per megawatt hour (MWh) for electricity produced by Hinkley Point, the first new-build nuclear power plant in the UK since 1995. Under this agreement, if the usual wholesale price is lower, the consumer pays the difference in price. The current wholesale electricity price is around £42 per MWh, so the electricity consumer would pay EDF an extra £50 per MWh.

Last month, the government agreed a “strike price” of £57.50 per MWh for offshore windfarms off Scotland and Yorkshire, far below the Hinkley guaranteed price.

This week, the Green MP Caroline Lucas asked the government about the Ministry of Defence and the business department discussing the “relevance of UK civil nuclear industry skills and supply chains to the maintaining of UK nuclear submarine and wider nuclear weapons capabilities”.

Harriett Baldwin, the defence procurement minister, answered that “it is fully understood that civil and defence sectors must work together to make sure resource is prioritised appropriately for the protection and prosperity of the United Kingdom”.

Johnstone said the decision-making process behind Hinkley raised questions about transparency and accountability, saying: “In this ever more networked world, both civil and military nuclear technologies are increasingly recognised as obsolete. Yet it seems UK policymaking is quietly trying to further entrench the two – in ways that have been escaping democratic accountability.”

At a hearing held by the PAC in parliament on Monday, senior civil servants defended the Hinkley deal after a National Audit Office report concluded that it was “risky and expensive”. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/12/electricity-consumers-to-fund-nuclear-weapons-through-hinkley-point-c

Utility companies move into battery storage, not nuclear

Our Local Enterprise Partnership still puts all OUR eggs in the Hinkley C basket (case).

“Britain’s switch to greener energy will take another significant step forward this week with the opening of an industrial-scale battery site in Sheffield.

E.ON said the facility, which is next to an existing power plant and has the equivalent capacity of half a million phone batteries, marked a milestone in its efforts to develop storage for electricity from windfarms, nuclear reactors and gas power stations.

The plant, housed in four shipping containers, is the type of project hailed by the business secretary, Greg Clark, as crucial to transforming the UK’s energy system and making it greener.

At 10MW, the Blackburn Meadows battery is one of the biggest in Britain so far, but will soon be eclipsed by much larger plants.

Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, is building a 49MW facility on the site of a former power station in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, while EDF Energy is working on one of the same size at its West Burton gas power station in Nottinghamshire.

David Topping, the director of business, heat and power solutions at E.ON, said: “This is a milestone for E.ON in the new energy world and an important recognition of the enormous potential for battery solutions in the UK.”

The utility-scale batteries are being built in response to a request from National Grid, the owner of Britain’s power transmission network, for contracts to help it keep electricity supply and demand in balance, which is posing an increasing challenge for the grid as more intermittent wind and solar comes online. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/09/uk-first-mega-battery-plant-come-online-sheffield-eon-renewable-energy

London Mayor asks car manufacturers to contribute to anti-pollution measures

Why stop at London?

Greater Exeter is already polluted by cars streaming into and out of the cities and towns it covers. Who is going to tackle that?

Not our Local Enterprise Partnership, or the Greater Exeter partners that”s for sure – they both want more houses and more roads.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/06/sadiq-khan-asks-car-manufacturers-to-give-funds-towards-tackling-londons-toxic-air

DCC EDA Independent Councillor Shaw asks LEP CEO killer question

The question

When will the Heart of the South West LEP offer something to small town, rural and coastal Devon?

The response:

“This was the question I asked Chris Garcia, of the Heart of the South West LEP, when he appeared before the Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee (CIRS) at Devon County Council yesterday. Mr Garcia said that Government funding was geared mainly to urban areas, but the LEP has a ‘rural growth commission’ which will publish a report shortly. I shall look out for it.

Mr Garcia didn’t reply, however, to my criticism that the LEP is itself skewed by the ‘white elephant’ new nuclear power station at Hinkley C in Somerset. This project, rashly endorsed by Theresa May who had a chance to halt it, will cause British consumers pay over the odds for electricity for decades to come, based on an unproved type of nuclear station which is not supported even by many who believe nuclear energy is necessary for national energy needs, and in the control of French and Chinese state companies! As renewables get cheaper and electric storage becomes viable, this is a project we don’t need. True, it will bring some jobs to Somerset, but not to most of Devon.

Mr Garcia came with a powerpoint and brandishing the LEP’s latest glossy annual report. I asked that in future, we had proper written reports circulated in advance which members could scrutinise.

Mr Garcia didn’t mention the word ‘devolution’. HoTSW is leaving all that to Devon and Somerset county councils, who are apparently now planning to establish a Joint Committee. What that will involve is something else county councillors will need to scrutinise carefully.”

When will the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership (LEP) offer something to small town, rural and coastal Devon?

LEPs need to be BIGGER say conference speakers!

“Brexit means a new model of devolution is needed because different areas of the UK have varying capacities to cope with leaving the EU, a CIPFA North East event has heard.

The regions’ capacity to deal with Brexit could be made more difficult as decision making is centered around Whitehall, Anna Round, senior research fellow on the North East from the IPPR think-tank, told the event in Newcastle yesterday.

“I think the capacity for regions to shape their future outside the EU is immensely important,” she said, at the event hosted by CIPFA and the Brexit Advisory Commission.

“There is a challenge there about how devolution will progress, how it is distributed meaningfully between Whitehall and regions.

“I think the current model of devolution is not going to do that, that needs to change.”

Round noted recent studies showed the “extraordinary” levels of economic disparity in the UK between London and the rest of the country. This was the most profound imbalance of this kind in the EU, she said.

She stated this was historically made worse by the “huge political imbalance in a hugely centralised country”.

The research fellow suggested looking again at the scale of the areas covered by devolution deals and moving to a more federalised system.

She suggested the devolution areas should be larger to give them more ‘clout’.

Round spoke on the day it was revealed two councils – Barnsley and Doncaster councils have pulled out of a South Yorkshire devolution deal because they said it was too small to be effective.

The leaders of the councils argued a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal would be better. A Communities and Local Government spokesperson said the department would not consider this.

David Bell, from the university of Stirling, speaking at the Newcastle event yesterday agreed with Round’s assessment of the regional disparity in the UK.

Although, he believed a federal structure was possible he said that the wider geographical areas in England did not currently have a common sense of identity, such as states in the US.

“It isn’t clear how to you from here [current system] to there [federal system],” he said.

Anthony Zito, professor of European policy for Newcastle University, also shared the view that the UK capacity of the regions to cope with Brexit needed to be each taken into account to make a success of leaving the EU.

Zito said he was not sure how the national and local governments in the UK would cope with the profound change that would result from Brexit.

This was because of the loss of benefits EU membership provided, he believed. “The UK’s ability to protect its environment, to enhance its trade, all those things which the European Union, I would argue, helped [provide].”

Zito asked how the UK will replace, for example, the skills and knowledge currently brought into the country through freedom of movement.

He also said “Brexit is taking knowledge and people with expertise away from other pressing problems” facing the wider public sector.

CIPFA and the Brexit Advisory Commission hosted the breakfast session to explore the risks and opportunities of Brexit for public services in the North East.”

http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2017/09/brexit-means-regions-need-new-model-devolution

Compare and contrast: pay rises

£81,000 to £95,000:

“The board that oversees Glasgow’s three further education colleges has dropped plans to award a 17% pay rise to a senior official.

This followed intervention by the deputy first minister after the proposal was roundly criticised by Holyrood’s public audit committee.”

http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2017/09/scottish-fe-executives-17-pay-rise-blocked-after-ministerial-intervention

MEANWHILE, here in Devon:

£90,727 to £115,000:

So, here we are: Somerset County Council theoretically holds the purse strings – except it obviously doesn’t! There is no scrutiny or transparency, no way of stopping this juggernaut that we have never been consulted about.

AND we have no way of knowing how Diviani voted – the LEP doesn’t release such information.

“Chris Garcia, chief executive of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), could see his pay jump nearly 27% from £90,729 to £115,000. [This was agreed today with the two councils objecting].

“Somerset council leader John Osman said: “The pay of £90,000 is already too much so I believe it should be at least 10% less than that.”

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/01/17/17562/

As a recent commentator points out:

“Two key points:

1. LEP is completely and utterly unaccountable either to the people of the SW directly or via our elected representatives on the CCs.

2. Unlike the Scottish government, the UK government is unwilling to step in in the interests of prudent and acceptable public spending, and by failing to step in is giving the appearance that they promote this sort of excessive pay for their friends (and in some case party sponsors) in what many of would consider a corrupt way.

Funny how there is never any money for essential rank-and-file public sector workers like nurses and firemen and prison officers and the police etc. whose pay rises (when they get them) continue to be below inflation, but they never have anything to say and never take any action when it is their mates and sponsors who are getting them. And if the excuse is because of the weight of their responsibilities and the stresses of the position, why does not that also apply to nurses etc. who face danger and traumatic experiences every day, and whose workloads are increasing due to cuts in staff numbers?

SUMMARY: Its one rule for the Conservative elite and their friends / sponsors, and another for the remaining 95%-98% of the population.

CONSERVATIVES: “For the few not the many.”