Hinkley Point C
It is of course important that energy generation is safe and reliable, and that it delivers good value for money for consumers and taxpayers. I also believe it is vital that Britain has a balanced, diverse and clean energy mix in order to help reduce bills and our reliance on high-carbon energy sources and imports from an increasingly volatile global energy market.
I am eager for Britain to move towards meeting 100% of its energy needs from renewable sources such as wind and solar. But I also believe that, in the interim, nuclear energy has a role to play in delivering energy security and supporting a move away from polluting fossil fuels. It is estimated that Hinkley C could provide power to nearly 6 million homes and generate 7% of the UK’s electricity by 2025, as well as creating up to 25,000 jobs over the course of construction and 900 long-term jobs over its lifespan.
I appreciate that there are risks associated with nuclear energy production, and that these have prompted widespread concern with regard to Hinkley Point C. That is why I believe the Government’s agreement on Hinkley Point C will need careful scrutiny to guarantee high safety standards and adequate arrangements for management and disposal of waste produced by the new plant.
EDF Energy confirmed its decision to go ahead with building HPC on 28 July 2016. Following EDF’s decision, the Government announced at a day’s notice that it would conduct a review into the project. The Government has now completed that review and confirmed that it will go ahead with HPC. However, its delay in confirming a decision jeopardised investment in UK jobs and infrastructure, undermined the confidence of investors in our energy system and risked a diplomatic dispute with China, one of our key future trading partners. Given this, it is extraordinary that the Government did not review the price per unit of power that consumers will have to pay.
More widely, it is crucial that government continues to be serious about supporting renewable energy and moving our energy market away from fossil fuels. I am therefore very concerned that the current Government have slashed subsidies for renewables; are opening the door to fracking (including in national parks and other environmentally sensitive areas); have scrapped commitments to energy-efficient homes; and removed tax exemptions for low-emission cars. At the same time, fossil fuel industries are receiving £27 billion in subsidies.