Brexit could put Hinkley over budget and behind schedule

Britain’s exit from the European Union could put Hinkley Point C over budget and behind schedule, EDF has hinted.

EDF made its comments in a submission to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee ahead of a meeting tomorrow morning (25 January). 

The supplier did not mention the project by name and instead referred to “very substantial investments” in new infrastructure which would provide secure, low-carbon power.

“Although much of this investment will be sourced from within the UK, we will also be dependent on the import of goods and service and we will need to draw on skilled labour from the EU and globally,” EDF said. “These requirements will include critical goods and services in the nuclear supply chain and specialist nuclear skills. 

“There is a risk that restrictions on trade and movement of labour will increase the costs of essential new infrastructure developments and could delay their delivery,” it added.

The Nuclear Industry Association also highlighted the industry’s need for “continuing access to skills… and the easy supply of goods and services across EU borders” in its submission.

The BEIS committee will hear evidence tomorrow morning on what should be bargaining priorities for energy and climate change policy during the Brexit negotiations. The session will focus on security of supply and cross-border trading and will hear from National Grid’s director of system operations, Phil Sheppard, among others.

The final agreement to build Hinkley Point C was signed by the UK government, EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) a ceremony in London in September.

The 3.2GW project in Somerset, which EDF says will cost £18 billion to build, has faced sustained criticism over its hefty price tag. A report by the National Audit Office in July concluded that the cost of subsidizing Hinkley had increased nearly five-fold since a Contract for Difference was agreed in October 2013 due to falling projections for wholesale power prices. 

In the last few days it was reported that Toshiba is seeking public financing for the Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria because of a substantial write down by its US nuclear arm Westinghouse.

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