Claims that ‘insane’ economics of nuclear industry will kill off Sizewell C plans

The future site of the Sizewell C project is next to Sizewell B's dome. The future site of the Sizewell C project is next to Sizewell B's dome.

by John Grant
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
8:49 AM

The “completely insane” economics of the nuclear industry are likely to kill off plans for a third nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast, one of Britain’s leading environmental campaigners forecast yesterday.

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The proposal to build Sizewell C was probably destined to “die under the weight of its own massive, white elephant’s weight,” said green heavyweight Jonathon Porritt.

He predicted an eventual “collapse of political will” caused by the “double hit” of colossal costs to the taxpayer and the consumer.

Mr Porritt was speaking ahead of a talk he is to give in Suffolk tomorrow to members of Together Against Sizewell C (TASC).

The former director of Friends of the Earth, who is also the founder director of Forum for the Future and co-founder of the Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme, said he would be highlighting the economics of the nuclear industry and the way the current “obsession” with nuclear power deflected attention away from alternative energy sources.

“That obsession diverts so much political energy and diverts away from the whole sense of there being alternatives, just at the very time when those alternatives are beginning to look really exciting and absolutely astonishing,” he said.

While acknowledging that building Sizewell C would deliver significant numbers of construction-related jobs, he will be illustrating how the renewable energy sector in the East of England – wind, solar and biogas industries – had the potential to deliver “far more effective” job creation.

He will also be examining the “critical moral issue” of nuclear waste.

It was the area of economics – of investment, subsidy and consumer costs – that was likely to prove among the most damaging to the Sizewell C proposal, said Mr Porritt.

“I have argued all along that the government was lying when it said this would be without subsidy,” he said.

“The only way other countries have kept the costs down to manageable levels has been in accelerated build programmes where there are as many as six reactors being built and it is highly unlikely that will be done this time around here.”

Asked if EDF Energy’s Sizewell C proposal was an “unstoppable force”, he said: “It is not a foregone conclusion.

“The economics have been revealed to be completely insane with ramped up demands on the taxpayer and the consumer that are outrageous.”

The TASC meeting will be held at the Riverside Centre, Stratford St Andrew. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

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