Aerial shot of Hinkley Point C proposal

Hinkley Point delay prompts calls for 'Plan B'; further solar cuts

Construction delays to Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant have prompted calls for the government to draw up a Plan B in case it never gets built.

The Labour Party’s shadow energy secretary, Lisa Nandy, said the future of nuclear power in the UK country could not just be about the new plant, due to be built in Somerset by French energy giant EDF.

EDF extended the generating lifespan of four of its nuclear power plants last month by up to seven years amid rumours that it is struggling to find the cash to pay for Hinkley Point C.

A communique issued after a Franco-British summit on Thursday attended by the leaders of both countries said: "France and the United Kingdom welcome the major progress made in recent months with a view to confirming the project to build two EPR reactors on the Hinkley Point site.

"EDF is currently devoted to preparing all necessary elements for the announcement of a FID (Final Investment Decision) for Hinkley Point C in the near future, with the full support of the French government.

"This major strategic project is a pillar of the bilateral relationship and will be a key aspect of Britain's energy policy."

Nandy will tell a meeting of the Women in Nuclear organisation that there should be cheaper ways of building nuclear power stations in the future.

"This will be essential because the future of nuclear in Britain cannot just be about Hinkley Point C", she said. "That project has been hit by one delay after another, and there still has not been a final investment decision.

"Given the power crunch we face, it is increasingly clear ministers need a Plan B in case it is never built.”

Nandy even said that other designs for nuclear reactors existed that would be preferential to those planned for Hinkley Point C. Some are able to turn Britain's nuclear waste stockpile into fuel, which reduces the risks of proliferation and cuts costs.

Meanwhile, the government has announced that solar panels which use the sun to heat water will no longer receive subsidies.

The industry has reacted furiously to the move to do away with support for new solar thermal schemes from next year under the renewable heat incentive (RHI), which aims to boost the use of clean technology to provide heating and hot water.

The plans come soon after a report from a committee of MP’s that claims that sudden and unexpected changes to UK renewable energy policies have ‘spooked’ investors in the sector.

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association (STA) which represents the industry, said the proposal "simply doesn't make sense".

"The Government acknowledges the many benefits of solar thermal, yet proposes singling it out for the removal of financial support,” he said.

"With UK renewable heat deployment falling desperately behind target, government should be full square behind this technology as part of a strategic plan to permanently bring down heating costs for British families.”

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