Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) chief executive Tom Greatrex has warned that a delay beyond early autumn, as set out by the government, could harm the UK’s wider infrastructure ambitions.
Speaking to Utility Week, Greatrex said: “The danger is if the delay is prolonged, it is not just this project that is undermined, but everything in terms of infrastructure.”
Within hours of EDF giving the 3.2GW nuclear power plant the go-ahead, business and energy secretary Greg Clark issued a statement saying the government needs to “consider carefully all the component parts of this project” and will make a final decision in the autumn.
While the NIA chief is eager for the decision to be promptly made, he is not concerned about the future of the project.
“Don’t underestimate the importance of the decision by EDF. The commitment has been made for EDF to go ahead with it, and as far as they are concerned they have signed the contract.
“Greg Clark reiterated the government’s support for new nuclear, and it is understandable that the new team in place will want to take their time with the deal.”
The Energy and Climate Change committee chair and SNP MP Angus MacNeil also praised the government for postponing the signing-off of the Hinkley Point C deal, commending it as “a sensible move”.
However, he slammed the agreement between the government and EDF, which will see EDF received £92.50/MWh when Hinkley is operational, as a “bad energy deal” and one “people would get out of if they could”.
Shadow energy secretary Barry Gardiner also attacked the government’s handling of the deal, saying it is in “chaos”.
“Delaying the decision on Hinkley at the eleventh hour shows a disregard for 25,000 British jobs that depend on it and it sends out a disastrous message to the investor community that this government is incapable of managing large-scale infrastructure projects.”