Friday, 29 July 2016

The issues of ownership and energy security @ Hinkley C >>> but 'business in the South West face the bitter disappointment of further delays'

The whole Hinkley project has been caught up in issues around the referendum:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Hinkley
Futures Forum: Brexit: and infrastructure projects
Futures Forum: Brexit: and energy: nuclear, renewables and climate change
Futures Forum: Brexit: and energy

... as well as issues around ownership and 'energy security':
Futures Forum: Energy infrastructure @ Hinkely C >>> losing control and paying tithes to Direct Foreign Investors

Yesterday's decision by EDF to finally endorse its project in Somerset has been welcomed by many:
Tourism chiefs welcome the go-ahead for Hinkley Point C | Somerset Live

Including by the Daily Mail - although with serious reservations:

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Paying a heavy price for our nuclear future


Over the last 20 years, the inability of successive governments to decide on an energy strategy for this country has been one of the great scandals of the age – for which we predict future generations will pay a heavy price. In this context, it would be difficult for the Mail not to endorse the go-ahead for a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point. At least a decision has been made.

Whether it’s the right decision is another matter altogether. It’s a decade since the project was first mooted, it won’t be generating power for at least nine years and will cost an eye-watering £18billion. The two prototype reactors on which the Hinkley Point scheme  is based – in France and Finland – have been riddled with nightmarish problems, are massively over-budget and behind schedule And even those figures are wildly optimistic. The two prototype reactors on which the Hinkley Point scheme is based – in France and Finland – have been riddled with nightmarish problems, are massively over-budget and behind schedule.

The ineluctable fact remains that with our existing nuclear plants becoming obsolete, coal being phased out and no new gas-fired stations under way, Britain must act now or soon suffer blackouts.

But to pretend there aren’t extraordinary risks in Hinkley Point would be deeply naive. The French company EDF building it subsidised by Chinese money but its unions are furiously opposed and a senior director resigned because he believes such a difficult project could bankrupt the company.

British taxpayers also have to guarantee a minimum price for the energy produced – at more than twice the current rate. The real tragedy, however, is that Britain, which pioneered nuclear technology, can’t build its own power stations. When Labour sold off the industry in the early 2000s, the expertise was lost.

We have handed control of our energy supply to foreigners – with chilling implications for Britain’s future economic security.

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Paying a heavy price for Hinkley Point nuclear future | Daily Mail Online

And the UK government seems to be sharing the same reservations:
Hinkley Point review signals UK rethink on Chinese investment — FT.com
Is China the hitch for the Hinkley Point deal? - BBC News
Hinkley C: is this what Theresa May is worried about? | East Devon Watch

... and has delayed the project:
Hinkley Point point delay sends shares in EDF surging - Telegraph

Not everyone is happy:
Hinkley Point nuclear plant delay 'bonkers' says union - BBC News

Devon's devolution partner had hoped for good times to come:
Hinkley Point: Somerset economy poised for boost - BBC News

And so the delay has caused considerable jitters across the border - and probably across the whole of the 'Heart of the South West' devolution area:

Hinkley Point update: Confidence 'dented' - Somerset business leader calls for quick decision

By Western Gazette - Yeovil | Posted: July 29, 2016 By Andrew Doyle

Government must make a quick decision on Hinkley says Somerset Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dale Edwards

It was a hammer blow to business hopes for a swift start to construction work on site for the £18 billion Hinkley Point C project as last night the Government announced it would now be reviewing it and delaying a decision until the autumn. Business Secretary Greg Clark said the Government would "consider carefully" before backing it.

This despite what is currently the biggest construction project on the planet being finally being rubberstamped by the EDF board just two hours before. It's been tortuous journey for the company which faced high profile resignations and union opposition in the run-up.

And now business in the South West face the bitter disappointment of further delays.

Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce Dale Edwards said he was still positive the project would go ahead but he conceded "confidence has been dented" and called on the Government to make a decision quickly and send out a strong message and avoid long-term uncertainty.

He was joined in that call by the leader of Sedgemoor District Council Councillor Duncan McGinty who said all the council could do was " wait and press our local MP's to pursue for a speedy resolution".

Meanwhile Bridgwater and Somerset West Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, said he was surprised but understood the thinking, saying the Prime Minister had a reputation for having a 'meticulous eye for detail' and needed to pause to look over the contract.

Somerset Chamber of Commerce has been supporting the engagement with the South West Hinkley supply chain on behalf of EDF Energy since 2010. This has involved capturing supplier details and mapping their core capabilities against the project requirements, with over 3,200 supplier details now captured and mapped.

Businesses in the south west had to put the champagne on ice on Thursday night , but the chamber is trying putting a positive spin on the news saying it gives more businesses the chance to come on board.

Chief executive Dale Edwards said the delay would be frustrating for all the business waiting for the green light.

"We were very much encouraged by the fact that EDF's long-awaited final investment decision demonstrates a significant vote of confidence in the local, regional and national supply chain being ready, willing and able to deliver this major infrastructure project," he said. "We remain positive that the project will go ahead. This is a huge opportunity – it is likely to be the biggest construction project in Europe – and having a little more time for suppliers to ensure they are fully prepared is no bad thing, as well as potentially giving more local firms an opportunity to get involved in the supply chain activity."

"Already we have five local supplier groups announced as preferred bidders for contracts with a value of around £225million, involving over 20 local and regional businesses. Contracts to the value of £50million have already been awarded and are being delivered by almost 200 suppliers in Somerset, with another £58million worth of contracts currently with suppliers across the South West, so the economic benefits for the region are already being realised. We understand that Theresa May and the new cabinet want to go over the details of the contract, but it is important that we get a decision quickly to avoid any long term uncertainty, not only for the economic resilience of the region but also for the country's long term energy security.

"A strong message that the UK and particularly the South West is open for business needs to be communicated, to instil the confidence that will have been dented following the government's decision to delay. In the meantime, the Somerset Chamber's Hinkley Supply Chain Team will continue to work with EDF, its Tier 1 contractors and the businesses registered on the portal to ensure that as many local businesses benefit from the project as possible."

The Somerset Chamber of Commerce manages the Hinkley supply chain portal and is the first point of contact for Somerset and South West businesses wishing to engage in the construction of the proposed nuclear new build project.

EDF is yet to issue a formal response to the development but chief executive Vincent de Rivaz cancelled a trip to Hinkley Point on Friday following Business Secretary Greg Clark's comments that the government will "consider carefully" before backing Hinkley.

Bridgwater and Somerset West MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said: "Theresa May has a well-earned reputation for her meticulous attention to detail and clearly she wants to get to grips with the deal on the table to ensure it does represent the best value for money for current and future UK taxpayers."

Mr Liddell-Grainger said many people would feel frustrated at yet another delay for the scheme, planned to meet seven per cent of the UK's electricity needs. "But those of us who have been pushing for Hinkley Point C have been closely involved in the project for nine and a half years and understand it inside out: Theresa May has had just three weeks to get her head round it so it's hardly surprising she has called for a pause."

Hinkley Point update: Confidence 'dented' - Somerset business leader calls for quick decision | Somerset Live

However, how many jobs the project would actually bring to the region is not actually clear:
Hinkley C: if it brings 5,000 jobs, where are the other 20,000 promised by the LEP coming from? | East Devon Watch

See also:
Hinkley Point C – Oh Deary Me | East Devon Watch 

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