Since then, the government steered clear of bankrolling nuclear power. This has reflected the Treasury’s wider “private investment good, public investment bad” mantra.
The same orthodoxy has kept Hinkley C off the government’s balance sheet using a Byzantine financing arrangement that guaranteed EDF a strike price of £92.50/MWh for 35 years.
But while the past decade has seen a mass of energy expended on nuclear policy, the actual new nuclear generation delivered wouldn’t power a single light bulb.
And though the Hinkley deal may have kept government borrowing down, taxpayers will still end up paying through the nose for the project through their electricity bills.
This week, the government said it would consider taking a direct stake in Hitachi-backed plans to build a new nuclear plant on the Isle of Anglesey. While this is not a firm commitment, Labour is right to describe this move to get back in the nuclear game as a big shift.
To some extent, the move probably reflects the relative weakness of the Treasury, which can ill afford to pick a fight with the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department, its closest ally in the government’s internal Brexit wrangles. But for the nuclear industry, going back to the future is no bad thing.