Saturday, 17 September 2016

Dr Clark's confusion over Hinkley C

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Hinkley C decision is the cabinet minister responsible for delivering the project, business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Dr Greg Clark – in office only since 14 July this year- is demonstrably ignorant of his own department’s brief and policies.
His 1992 doctorate from the London School of Economics (LSE), which  also attended,  is entitled, The effectiveness of incentive payment systems: an empirical test of individualism as a boundary condition.

As someone whose own 1986 doctorate was entitled Nuclear Powers, on how nuclear reactor choices were made 1955-1979, and who has worked on nuclear energy policy ever since 1980,including three years on Dr Clark’s predcessor, (now Sir) Ed Davey’s Geological Disposal Implementation Board for radioactive waste (2012-14), let me challenge some of his more egregious errors in his statement to Parliament  on Hinkley C on 15 September.

In his statement he asserted: “Unlike in the past, the long-term decommissioning costs for the plant will be provided for explicitly as part of the funded decommissioning programme, and at a level that has been assessed independently as prudent and conservative.”

This is both misleading and inaccurate.

I have been involved for over seven years in the development of the complex process (including consultation round tables, consultation documents and discussion for a run by Government) determining how future radioactive waste costs wil lbe paid.
The bottom line is a cap on costs for nuclear plant owner/operators  has been agreed, so if the costs go above the agreed cap, and are not covered bythe extra insuranc epremium paid by the company,  unfortunate future taxpayers will have to meet the extra costs. Dr Clark surely should know this; as should his special advisors.
He also told Labour  MP Ben Bradshaw “. [Hinkley C] is a good deal that will secure 7% of our energy into the future. “

This is totally inaccurate: if Hinkley C  works to plan - a big if -  it will provide around 7% of the national electricity demand, equivalent to about 1.5% of total energy demand. Dr Clark thus significantly over inflates the project’s importance.

It is just as disappointing that shadow energy secretary, Dr Barry Gardiner- a philosopher and insurance expert  by background -  acted as a cheerleader for Hinkley C , not an opponent ( which is actually Labour policy), in responding to Dr Clark in Parliament.


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