UK/Suffolk: EDF talks continue despite nuclear power plant go-ahead

The Government has given the go-ahead to the first of a planned fleet of new nuclear reactors in the

The Government has given the go-ahead to the first of a planned fleet of new nuclear reactors in the UK. - Credit: PA

THE Government has given the go-ahead for the first of a planned new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK - but plans for Sizewell C in Suffolk still hinge on a deal being struck with energy giant EDF.

Construction of the first new nuclear reactors since the 1990s – including Sizewell C on the Suffolk coast – still depends on a deal being struck between the Government and energy giant EDF over the price the company will get for electricity generated.

The move to grant planning permission for Hinkley Point C in Somerset, announced today, was welcomed by unions and local councils in the region, who said it would generate tens of thousands of jobs and boost the economy.

But environmental groups criticised the Government for pressing ahead with new nuclear plants, warning that the price agreed for the electricity would be too high and raising concerns over the lack of plans for dealing with nuclear waste.

EDF said intensive discussions were ongoing on the guaranteed “strike” price for power generated at the plant.

Under electricity market reforms, low-carbon power such as nuclear reactors will have long-term contracts with a guaranteed price for their electricity, to give investors certainty to invest in projects with high capital costs.

Tonight, Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said: “I am very pleased with the [Hinkley] announcement. It doesn’t affect us directly but it is a welcome step towards the building of Sizewell C, helping to secure our energy security and prosperity.

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“Negotiations are ongoing between the Government and EDF about the ‘strike price’ for Hinkley Point – which will also be an important indicator for Sizewell.

“Due to the huge investment and long pay-back time, the strike price will give EDF certainty on their rate of return. I spoke to both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor recently in relation to the negotiations and they are of course very aware of how important the building of Sizewell C will be in boosting the local economy and creating thousands of jobs”.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said affordable new nuclear would play a “crucial role” in ensuring secure, diverse supplies of energy in the UK and decarbonising the electricity sector and the economy.

He said: “It’s vital to get investment in new infrastructure to get the economy moving. Low-carbon energy projects will bring major investment, supporting jobs and driving growth.

“This planned new nuclear power station in Somerset will generate vast amounts of clean energy and enhance our energy security.

“It will benefit the local economy, through direct employment, the supply chain and the use of local services.”

Business group CBI’s chief policy director Katja Hall said the planning permission for the new reactors was a big step forward on a critical energy infrastructure scheme.

Hinkley Point C would be the first new nuclear power plant in the UK since Sizewell B, which started generating electricity in 1995.

It is estimated the project will create up to 25,000 jobs during construction.