OF all recent U-turns by PM Johnson’s government, surely two on nuclear power and nuclear bombs are now overdue, writes Alan Debenham.
They are made urgent made urgent by severe ravages to our health and economy from Covid-19, with worse to come through climate chaos, sea-level and population rises, pollution etc.
Both are connected by material for bombs coming from nuclear power; both are extremely costly in hundreds of billions; both are extremely dangerous in high-level radioactive waste storage for thousands of years and possibilities of nuclear accident or war; and both are now obsolete via green revolution’s advances in much cheaper renewable energy and post-cold war’s more UN international collaboration – especially post-Trump and UK-hosted COP26 later this year.
In fact, nearly all the national press – including Telegraph and Times newspapers – have labelled Somerset’s half-built Hinkley C, and planned same priced Suffolk’s Sizewell C, both as potential economic and delivery disasters in big cost overruns and long delays.
HPC said to cost £4 billion in 2008 and operational for 2017, now updated to £23 billion and operation in 2025, with reactor design still not proven.
However, as awful as this is, by far the biggest stumbling block to HPC’s continued construction is still the usual problem with nuclear electricity’s exorbitant cost to us consumers, it being so far above the wholesale market rate that the government either has to force everybody to pay through the nose, via national grid control, or price has to be reduced by heavy public subsidies (probably not permitted under the recent bad UK-EU trade deal).
The 35-year index-linked agreed HPC ‘strike price’ in 2012 was set at £92.50 per megawatt hour which now stands at £110 today, with wholesale market rate of £45, becoming £130 in 2025 with the same estimated market rate (onrush of cheap wind and solar).
In other words, us forced to pay three times over the odds, making more political mayhem for Johnson than Covid ever did!
Alongside this debacle, next week sees 123-nation ratification of new UN Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons, the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively ban nuclear bombs, aiming for their total elimination.
So if Johnson really wants green-left popularity away from extremist Brexiteers, then “double nuclear U-turns” are musts to stop Tory betrayal of UK’s nuclear control to France and China.