Opposition hardens to Hinkley post Brexit
By Paul Homewood
The influential trade union presence on the board of EDF are stepping up their opposition to the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project in the UK, following Brexit.
FT reports that the CGT, CFE-CGC and the FO unions issued a joint statement on Thursday saying the Brexit vote added “new elements of uncertainty” to the £18bn project and argued again for postponement of sign-off.
The union members who hold six seats of the 18 on EDF’s board said Britain’s vote to leave the EU makes it “more necessary than ever” for EDF to delay making a final investment decision.
The beleaguered project has suffered delay and opposition at every turn. The union’s main gripe is that the EPR reactor technology that will be used is still untested, with no working example in the world.
The EDF workers’ committee — an official body within the company made up largely of union members — is legally obliged to give its official opinion on whether Hinkley Point should go ahead on July 4.
Last week the committee filed a legal claim to try to delay that decision. It alleged that EDF has “refused” to give the body key documents about Hinkley Point C.
EDF has rejected the allegations. A court hearing about the workers’ committee claim is scheduled for September 22.
Despite Emmanuel Macron, France’s economy minister insisting Brexit will have “no consequences” for the project, government colleagues don’t appear to totally share the conviction that the FID be made. Michel Sapin, the French finance minister, said the project had become “more difficult” following the Brexit vote.
Meanwhile there is now a question mark about the legal status of the UK’s legally binding goal to reduce carbon emissions, made before the country opted out of the bloc.
The move was dismissed as potentially “unlawful” by the think-tank founded by Nigel Lawson, the former Tory Chancellor and a member of the Leave campaign’s strategy committee.
The goal was “based on the now incorrect assumption that the UK will still be in the EU by 2030”, the foundation said. It also assumed the UK would remain in the EU emissions trading scheme, the world’s largest carbon market, and be “covered by the EU’s Paris agreement terms”, it said.
The EU has collectively agreed to cut emissions 40 per cent by 2030 as part of its commitment to the Paris climate change accord agreed in December.
EDF told Power Engineering International they had no comment to make on the latest union statement.
"We have nothing to add to what Vincent de Rivaz told the Energy Select Committee. Jean Bernard Levy made it very clear last week that Brexit had not changed the company’s outlook."
Whoever the new PM is, and whatever happens with Brexit negotiations, the first thing they need to do is start a total rethink of our energy policy. It is looking increasingly unlikely whether Hinkley will ever get off the ground, and if it does not, a huge black hole is going to appear in the UK’s power base.
It is totally unacceptable that the French trade unions, government or courts should be in a position to block what amounts to 7% of the UK’s power supply.