Sizewell C: MPs want to see Government’s agreement with EDF made public

An artist's impression of what Sizewell C could look like

An artist's impression of what Sizewell C could look like - Credit: Copyright EDF Energy 2012 - Stag

MPS are calling for the disclosure of full details of the proposed deal being negotiated between the Government and EDF Energy over a guaranteed price for electricity generated by planned new nuclear power stations

The cross-party group, which includes Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP and member of the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, say the public costs involved may be considerable and it is only right they are exposed to public scrutiny.

Alan Whitehead, a member of the Commons Select Committees on Energy and Climate Change, said because of commercial confidentiality there was likely to be very limited public access to the details once the deal had been agreed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

“For such key negotiations, with such important outcomes - potentially locking in UK taxpayers and energy consumers to a 35-40 year contract - there are concerns that these talks may lack the necessary democratic accountability, fiscal and regulatory checks and balances,” he says in a letter to DECC. “It is also argued that one of the main impacts of this contract may be to shift the economic risk of building new nuclear facilities from the nuclear corporations to the taxpayer and consumer. And these risks may prove very large.”

Mr Whitehead said it was possible the outcome of the negotiations will be subject to an inquiry into whether European Union state aid legislation has been contravened. “Therefore, in the context of openness, transparency, fiscal and regulatory accountability, and best value for the UK taxpayer and energy consumer - it seems reasonable to suggest that these negotiations should be subject to an in-depth and timely review,” he said.

A DECC spokesman said: “A contract will only be offered to EDF if the deal is fair, affordable and value for money, as well as consistent with European state aid rules, and takes account of the Government’s policy of no public subsidy for new nuclear.

“Any contract will be subject to Royal Assent of the supporting Energy Bill. There will be transparency over the terms of any contracts and details will be laid before Parliament.”