The Unite union said the UK government's indecisiveness regarding the completion date of the Hinkley Point nuclear power station could leave the UK facing power cuts.
The government has yet to make the final investment decision about the project, the first new nuclear development in the UK in more than two decades. The decision is expected in October.
The Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset is being built by French energy firm EDF Energy, which announced yesterday that another of its developments, a reactor in northern France, would also be delayed.
Although EDF Energy claimed at first the delay won’t have any effect on the Hinkley Point C project schedule, its chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Levy later admitted the Somerset plant will not start generating power in 2023 as planned.
"This delay is very bad news for the UK as energy capacity is very stretched at present, as we have lost energy resources in recent years as old coal-fired stations are phased out,” said Unite national officer Kevin Coyne.
"Business and domestic consumers face the very real prospect of power cuts and the lights going out in the years to come, if the final investment decision on Hinkley Point - the first new UK nuclear power plant in decades - is not made very soon.”
Coyne further urged energy secretary Amber Rudd to use her ministerial position to press potential investors for a quick decision on the necessary future investment, so that EDF can make a final investment decision before Christmas.
"The employment implications are serious too, as building Hinkley Point will provide many skilled jobs for a considerable length of time," Coyne said.
However, Professor David Elmes, of Warwick Business School, said the announcement that Hinkley Point C won’t be online in 2023 was hardly surprising.
“It increases the debate for a realistic assessment of the UK's future energy mix," he remarked.