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Delays to new Hinkley Point nuclear power station prompt calls for ‘plan B’

Computer generated image issued by EDF of the planned  Hinkley  Point C nuclear plant, agreed with the UK Government.
Computer generated image issued by EDF of the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, agreed with the UK Government.

The Government has been urged to draw up a Plan B in case a new nuclear power station planned at Hinkley Point is never built, according to Labour.

Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy said the future of nuclear power in this country could not just be about the new plant due to be built in Somerset by French energy giant EDF.

A communique issued after a Franco-British summit on Thursday attended by Prime Ministers of the two countries said: “France and the United Kingdom welcome the major progress made in recent months with a view to confirming the project to build two EPR reactors on the Hinkley Point site.

“EDF is currently devoted to preparing all necessary elements for the announcement of a FID (Final Investment Decision) for Hinkley Point C in the near future, with the full support of the French government.

“This major strategic project is a pillar of the bilateral relationship and will be a key aspect of Britain’s energy policy.”

But Ms Nandy will tell a meeting of the Women in Nuclear organisation that there should be cheaper ways of building nuclear power stations in the future.

“This will be essential because the future of nuclear in Britain cannot just be about Hinkley Point C.

“That project has been hit by one delay after another, and there still has not been a final investment decision.

“Given the power crunch we face, it is increasingly clear ministers need a Plan B in case it is never built.

“But beyond Hinkley there are an array of opportunities in other nuclear technologies.

“French, Chinese, American, Canadian and Japanese companies are racing ahead with new nuclear designs, including Molten Salt Reactors, Heavy Water Reactors, and Fast Reactors.

“With our proud history of successful nuclear research, and gold standard regulatory system, Britain must not now fall behind.

“Some of these new reactor designs even hold the potential to turn Britain’s nuclear waste stockpile into fuel, to reduce the risks of proliferation, and to cut costs.”

EDF has agreed a deal in principle for the £18 billion Hinkley project under which China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) will pay a third of the cost.

The company insists it is pressing ahead with making a so-called final investment decision for the project to go ahead.

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