Booker On Hinkley
Booker’s take on the Hinkley Point saga:
In the nick of time, it seems, a glimmer of sanity is at last breaking in on what I have long been describing as the most insane single project a British government has ever put its hand to. We can credit the decision to put on hold our agreement for EDF to build the most expensive power station in the world at Hinkley Point to Theresa May’s joint-chief of staff Nick Timothy: the man who, having back in April described the Climate Change Act as “a monstrous act of self-harm”, was also behind the abolition of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc).
Until now, the absurd story of Hinkley has been as vivid an example of the self-deluding power of groupthink as could be imagined. All those ministers swept along by it, such as Ed Miliband, Chris Huhne and Ed Davey, should hang their heads in shame. This culminated in that humiliating spectacle last year (as also noted by Mr Timothy in April) when David Cameron and George Osborne invited the President of China to London, to beg him to lend us billions of pounds towards buying a reactor design so flawed that it could almost certainly never be built.
Nothing should have brought this home more forcefully, as I noted last year, than the contrast between the Hinkley project and the way South Korea is building four nuclear reactors for the United Arab Emirates, to an already proven design and at only a fraction of the cost.
Although the UAE only began talks with Korea in 2009, the year we began negotiating with EDF for its two 1600 megawatt (MW) reactors at Hinkley, the four 1400MW reactors for the UAE (hence their name APR1400s) are already under construction, with the first due onstream next year and the rest to follow by 2020. For £15 billion, they will thus supply 5600MW of electricity, much more than Hinkley’s 3200MW, so grotesquely subsidised that even Decc admits its cost could eventually be £37 billion.
This is the dreadful fiasco from which, literally in “the Nick” of time, it seems we may now be saved., Of course we desperately need reliable nuclear power, to make up for the inadequacy of all those intermittent windmills. But we should forget about the French and Chinese and get on the phone to Korea as fast as possible, We should also be looking hard at “mini-nukes”, using industrially-produced small nuclear reactors similar to those which will be powering our Trident submarines, But that is a story for another day,