The report on the financing of the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point reinforces the case for public money to be committed to future large-scale energy projects, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Friday June 23).
Unite, which has about 45,000 members in the energy sector, has repeatedly called on the government to take a financial stake in big infrastructure projects and not rely on the uncertainties of the private sector.
In April, Unite called for business secretary Greg Clark to provide an injection of public cash for the Moorside nuclear power station in Cumbria, after French company ENGIE, earmarked to operate the site, pulled out of the NuGen consortium.
Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said, “The report by the National Audit Office (NAO) on the financing of Hinkley Point in Somerset and its future economic benefits underlines once again the need for the government to take up ‘a golden share’ in future energy projects.
“The commitment of government money would iron out the uncertainty of relying on the private sector for financing and would in the long-run be a better deal in the national interest in terms of energy security, the taxpayers’ pocket and the price the hard-pressed consumer has to pay for their energy.
“We welcomed French company EDF taking up the cudgels in pushing ahead with the development and providing the finance for the construction of the £18bn Hinkley Point plant.
“However, it is not a financial model we would wish to see for infrastructure projects, including nuclear new build, going forward.
“The aversion of the government in recent years in taking a financial stake in new future infrastructure projects, such as Moorside, has now been exposed by the NAO report.”
Hinkley Point is being built by EDF, with a stake from Chinese state-owned investor CGN. When Theresa May became prime minister last July she pressed the ‘pause’ button on the project, but the go-ahead was eventually given in September.