The French have a saying: “Le malheur des uns fait le bonheur des autres”, which essentially means that there’s always someone who will benefit from the misfortune of others. EDF, the French-owned energy company, will certainly know this, and the nuclear industry is cheerfully demonstrating it. Soaring gas and electricity prices, along with the panic caused by the long queues outside empty petrol stations, have led to a predictable knee-jerk reaction in government and the media. Nuclear is the answer! As someone who has been a regular visitor to the Suffolk coast for 30 years, I, along with thousands of others, have been opposing the £20 billion reactors that are being planned at Sizewell C. They will cause untold damage to Minsmere, one of Europe’s best-loved nature reserves, which is right next door. There aren’t the roads in Suffolk to cope with the extra 10,000 cars and HGVs heading their way. Who is going to pay for Sizewell C? Until recently EDF was in bed with CGN (China General Nuclear), which might have taken a 20 per cent share in the project, but because of national security issues having China as a business partner has become politically unacceptable. Unfortunately, very few pension funds have shown any inclination to invest. This puts more emphasis on the regulated asset base (RAB), which the protest group, Stop Sizewell C, has termed “the nuclear tax”. RAB will pile the upfront costs of construction on to consumers’ bill years ahead of it becoming operational. Is this the best time to be considering another stealth tax on electricity bills . . . particularly as the amount will almost certainly rise with the cost overruns and overspends for which the nuclear industry is notorious?
Times 3rd Oct 2021 read more »