Sizewell: New power station set to get go-ahead

SIZEWELL C will be built and thousands of jobs created thanks to the Government’s pro-nuclear Energy Bill, ministers and EDF bosses claimed last night.

The draft bill crucially includes a mechanism whereby the taxpayer acts like a guarantor for any potential losses for companies willing to invest in nuclear power if energy prices fluctuate.

This means EDF can be sure of a minimum return on their initial investment in building the new reactor.

The bill apparently leaves only one serious hurdle for the project in the shape of new French President Francois Hollande who remains opposed to the country’s reliance to nuclear power and wants the state-owned firm to concentrate its investment at home rather than abroad.

But the news will be largely welcomed in Suffolk with the promise of up to 25,000 jobs across the plant’s lifetime and a likely multi-million pound investment by the company in the local community including plans to bypass the A14 around villages that have been plagued by heavy traffic for years.

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It also paves the way for the disused Bradwell nuclear power station, in Essex, to reopen.

The vital element of the bill – which MPs will now discuss and potentially amend before it becomes law – is the proposal for contracts for difference (CfD) which offer firms a guaranteed minimum profit. It had been suggested that Government might have to fund some of the building work but ministers now hope this will not be the case.

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Energy Minister Charles Hendry told the East Anglian Daily Times the Government had done everything possible to ensure Sizewell C goes ahead.

“What the draft Energy Bill offers is the stability and security for companies like EDF to make a decision on their investment,” he said. “We have done everything necessary to get the best deal for Britain both in terms if investment and jobs and making sure the supply remains.

“We have worked closely with EDF and we are confident the outcome bill will be positive.”

Mr Hendry added that he believed fears Mr Hollande would force EDF to pull out of building Sizewell C were unfounded: “If Mr Hollande is so committed to growth it would be perverse for him to stop a French company going ahead with this project.”

EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “Nuclear must be competitive with other low carbon generation. The Contract for Difference will reflect that requirement. It is vital that we reach a balanced deal which fair for all parties: Government, consumers and investors. It is only by being fair, that a deal can be sustainable for the long term. We will be open and transparent on this.

“Our task now is to work through the detail of the Bill with officials and other stakeholders to ensure its provisions best meet the needs of customers, policymakers and investors. I am confident that new nuclear in the UK should and will go ahead. 2012 is defining year for new nuclear – and there is a need to maintain the current momentum.”

Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey said: “This is good news and is the first step to allow EDF to assess its investment in nuclear energy. There is a lot of work to do in Parliament to keep this moving along but it essential for the future of our energy supply and Sizewell C will bring jobs and investment to our part of Suffolk.”

Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk and chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, claimed the Bill failed to make clear how the incentives would work and said “an awful lot” still needs to be done.

Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex focused his criticism of the bill on claims bills for consumers could climb initially rather than the provisions for new nuclear projects.

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