A quick anti-nuclear result from the election of socialist Francois Hollande to the French presidency: West Somerset’s planning department has announced a delay to the start of massive earthworks at the Hinkley new nuclear power station site, due to start in August. These works were designed to prepare the ground for building the new power station and involved moving millions of cubic metres of soil and rock.
One factor in the delay appears to be Hollande’s election which has clearly impacted on EDF – the company backing the Hinkley development – which is 83% owned by the French state.
So what is Hollande’s position on nuclear power? Currently 75% of France’s electricity comes from nuclear power. Hollande wants to reduce this to 50% by 2025 as part of his plan for ‘the energy transition’. This plan also includes auditing every French nuclear power plant with the closure of any that are a safety risk. During his presidential election campaign, he also spoke out for improving energy efficiency and securing a diverse energy mix which includes renewables. EDF is clearly drawing the lessons from this policy shift.
This is good news for France but also good news for Britain – although our government may not think so, as it still pursues the increasingly vain hope of replacing Britain’s old nuclear power station stock.
As three of the big six energy firms have already dropped nuclear plans, this EDF pull back should serve as a warning – the writing on the wall which spells out ‘No New Nuclear’.
EDF naturally claims that all will go ahead eventually, but arguments about financial support, electricity market reform plans and huge costs all add further obstacles to nuclear new build.
As too does anti-nuclear protest! The major protest at Hinkley on 10 March – the anniversary of the Fukushima disaster – was the largest at a nuclear power station in decades. Now is the time to step up the protest, to seal the fate of nuclear power once and for all.