Green councillors will join a crisis meeting this Friday to discuss the ‘triple risks’ posed by Hinkley C nuclear power station. The meeting has been organised by Green South West MEP Molly Scott Cato, and will be attended by the Vice President of the French Assembly, Denis Baupin.
Anti-nuclear protestors and a white elephant will also join the group meeting outside the gates of Hinkley, to raise attention to the triple risks of security1, the risk of an energy gap2 and the risk associated with potential Chinese ownership3.
Hinkley point power station lies 50km from central Bristol. The French government has recently acknowledged the risks associated with the Pressurised Water nuclear reactor (EPR) model proposed for Hinkley C. The design has faced numerous problems, which have caused delays in both France and Finland1.
Mr Baupin said:
“EPR was meant to showcase the expertise of France’s nuclear energy industry to the world. But it has turned into the most expensive and risky model possible. The many problems that have occurred with this design so far show we don’t even know how to build it properly! The UK still has an opportunity to say no to this industrial and financial disaster.”
Green Councillor Martin Fodor, who was the Local Government Association’s energy advisor and will be attending the meeting on Friday said:
“Hinkley point C is quite simply a white elephant – a dangerous distraction to our urgent energy needs, which research has shown could be generated by renewable energy across the South West4. As the Telegraph noted earlier this year5, Hinkley C is over-budget, grossly subsidised and financially unsustainable. The EPR technology has encountered numerous problems in other countries1 and we don’t need this risky dinosaur on Bristol’s doorstep. Instead our residents desperately need practical solutions to keep warm, provide power, and create local green jobs, which investment in energy efficiency and renewables can deliver.”
The UK government is rumored to be ready to sign a deal with the Chinese to help fund Hinkley C, and Friday’s meeting comes ahead of a state visit by Chinese President, Xi Jinping to the UK later this month.
Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for South West England said:
‘The government is leading us into a dangerous dark alley where we will face a serious energy gap and where a reliance on Chinese capital will threaten safety and environmental standards 3. Friday’s meeting and protest will send a loud and clear message to the government. Hinkley is too risky. We need to abandon the project now and invest instead in green energy which can deliver energy security more quickly, more cheaply and provide thousands more quality jobs 4.
- Security risks: the Pressurised Water nuclear reactor (EPR) technology/construction proposed for the Hinkley plant has encountered numerous problems. France’s nuclear safety watchdog found “multiple” malfunctioning valves in the Flamanville EPR that could cause its meltdown, in a similar scenario to the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the US. The steel reactor vessel, which houses the plant’s nuclear fuel and confines its radioactivity, was also found to have “very serious anomalies” that increase the risk of it cracking.
- Energy gap risk: due to financial and technical delays, Hinkley is now not expected to produce any electricity until at least 2023. Molly Scott Cato MEP has pointed out that the project is effecting the development of renewables, both in terms of funding of renewables projects and in the allocation of spare grid capacity, which is being reserved for Hinkley and that the focus on nuclear power generation, while effectively putting the brakes on renewables, creates a risk of an energy shortfall, or energy gap. Recent research shows that renewables could quickly come on stream to fill the energy gap, given the necessary investment and political will.
- Risks associated with Chinese funding and ownership: Molly Scott Cato has identified these risks in her article for Business Green. She identifies Chinese investment as expensive and unreliable, pointing to recent volatility in its finance markets and the fact that our energy security will depend on the commitment of two companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party – one of which, the China National Nuclear Corporation, combines nuclear weapons production with civilian nuclear power. There are also risks associated with China’s questionable commitment to safety and environmental standards.
- The Power to Transform the South West report commissioned by Molly Scott Cato, demonstrates how the South West can provide 100%+ of its energy needs through renewable energy alone.