IT is business as usual for Hartlepool’s plans for a new nuclear power station despite nationwide fears over the future of the Government’s energy policy.
Two of the “big six” energy companies have pulled out of developing new nuclear plants in the UK.
RWE npower and E.ON will not proceed with their “Horizon” project to develop nuclear reactors at Wylfa in North Wales and Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire, citing the global economic crisis and significant costs of the project.
Gary Smith, of the GMB union, said: “This is a devastating blow which leaves the UK Government energy strategy in tatters.”
But any future Hartlepool plant would be developed by EDF Energy, which already owns and runs the existing facility in town.
Its chief executive, Vincent de Rivaz, said: “We are determined to make UK new nuclear a success.
“The UK needs investment in a diverse mix of energy sources including nuclear, gas and renewables. EDF Energy is investing in all three.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has previously said Hartlepool as well as Bradwell in Essex; Heysham in Lancashire; Hinkley Point in Somerset; Oldbury in South Gloucestershire; Sellafield in Cumbria; Sizewell in Suffolk and Wylfa in Anglesey would all be suitable for new build.
A new nuclear build for Hartlepool would see 450 permanent and 3,000 temporary jobs created for the town.
Responding to the announcement RWE npower and E.ON announcement, Energy Minister Charles Hendry said: “The UK’s new nuclear programme is far more than one consortia and there remains considerable interest.”
Government ministers gave the green light to the eight sites for a new generation of nuclear reactors last year, and said they are needed to reduce UK carbon emissions and keep the lights on.
But environmental groups said it was evidence that nuclear power, which provides just under a fifth of UK electricity supplies, was not a viable option for the country’s future energy mix.
Greenpeace’s policy director Doug Parr said: “Not even the billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money they have offered as incentives to the German and French nuclear industry are enough to make a new generation of power stations economically viable.”