Unions ‘bewildered’ at Hinkley C dilly-dallying
THOUSANDS of jobs have been put at risk by the government’s “bewildering” delay in signing a deal to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, unions said yesterday.
French energy giant EDF gave the final approval for the £18 billion project at Hinkley Point in Somerset (HPC) on Thursday, although its board was split on the issue.
The deal had been expected to be finalised today, but the government stunned the industry by saying it wanted more time to study the details and won’t make a decision until early autumn.
Around 25,000 jobs would be created by the project, which is already years behind schedule.
There was speculation that Prime Minister Theresa May was involved in the decision to take more time to study the details before any deal is signed.
Unions believe the government has been stung by criticism of the amount of money that EDF will be paid for generating power at Hinkley Point C — a whopping £92.50 per unit of electricity generated.
GMB national secretary Justin Bowden said: “Theresa May’s decision to review the go-ahead on HPC is bewildering and bonkers.
“After years of procrastination, what is required is decisive action, not dithering and more delay.
“This unnecessary hesitation is putting finance for the project in doubt and 25,000 new jobs at risk immediately after Brexit.
“It is a gross error of judgement and must be reversed.”
EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz was expected in Somerset yesterday morning along with senior company officials to give interviews about the project.
But, following the government statement, it emerged that no interviews would take place.
Construction union Ucatt acting general secretary Brian Rye said: “This is complete economic illiteracy.
“For the government to announce a decision to delay the project just hours after EDF had given the go-ahead is an absolute kick in the teeth for the construction industry.”
However, CND general secretary Kate Hudson said the government was right to review the deal.
She added: “Even supporters of nuclear power now recognise how bad this deal is.
“It means signing up our future to some of the most expensive electricity we have seen, and handing over £30 billion in subsidies to France and China just isn’t a credible economic plan.”
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK needs a reliable and secure energy supply and the government believes that nuclear energy is an important part of the mix.”