Barry Gardiner: “Hinkley is not essential for UK’s energy security”

Hinkley Point C is not essential for the UK’s energy security.

That’s according to Shadow Energy Secretary Barry Gardiner who spoke to ELN about the government’s annoucement to delay its final decision on the nuclear project to be built in Somerset.

Mr Gardiner said although Hinkley would meet 7% of the country’s electricity needs, there are other means to secure the nation’s power supply.

He told ELN: “There are interconnectors, there is storage capacity, there are other ways of providing that back up.

“At a time when the cost of renewables is coming down to record lows, when we’re seeing offshore wind down to £80/MWh off the cost of Holland, when we’re seeing onshore wind down to about £70/MWh, why is it that this UK Government has taken against renewables and has decided that they want to pay £92.5/MWh for nuclear?”

However, he added if the government decides to give the final go ahead to the project, Labour will welcome Hinkley as they believe “the energy mix in the UK will be better if there’s nuclear” but “not at any price”.

The Shadow Energy Secretary also said the government should have reviewed the project “two years ago” when he called for it and decided Hinkley was too expensive and when the National Audit Office reported bill payers will be paying “not £6 billion in subsidies to EDF but £30 billion.”

Mr Gardiner believes the government’s decision to review the project at the last minute makes the country “look incompetent” to other investors.

He added: “The trouble is to do this when EDF as a company is already, I would say critically unstable, to do it at a time when other investors in the UK are looking at the UK and saying: ‘why can’t these guys ever make their minds up about anything?'”

He also wonders why French President Francois Hollande didn’t tell EDF’s board members the UK would review the project before their final meeting, as the government let him know a week earlier.

He went on: “You’re [Mr Hollande] seriously asking the public to believe that you simply forgot to tell them? Or is it that you deliberately decided that you did not wish to prejudice the board decision that was going to take place, by making sure that they did not know that the UK Government was going to delay its decision?”