7 Questions EDF Needs to Answer About Hinkley Nuclear Plant
Tomorrow morning, the saga that is Hinkley nuclear power station is set to continue as executives from EDF will face a grilling from MPs in parliament.
As the media debate rages about Hinkley, MPs will now put questions to EDF – and other executives from the nuclear industry – about the cost and viability of the project and the value for money for consumers.
To get beyond soundbites, the committee of MPs will need to ask EDF the right questions. The Guardian newspaper published a few of its own questions the other day. But we’ve come up with a few ideas too, to throw into the mix:
1. For several years, EDF has said that the final decision to invest in Hinkley would come soon, possibly as soon as EDF’s next board meeting on 30 March. We need to know – why should we believe EDF any more when they say “soon”, given that the project is already running several years late?
2. It’s been reported that EDF – a French company – could receive a financial bailout by the French state, to help the firm afford to invest in Hinkley and avoid plunging the energy firm into a financial black hole. However, European laws exist that prevent governments from giving excessive subsidies or financial aid to companies, which might mean that this isn’t a viable option. So does that mean that in fact EDF is getting unfairly generous treatment?
3. We know from newspaper reports that an independent French nuclear expert recently wrote a paper – that was presented to the EDF board – which outlined the financial and technical barriers to the Hinkley project. As EDF says it’s committed to transparency, can we expect to now receive a copy of the report? And will Chancellor George Osborne be sent a copy too?
4. This same paper suggested it would be a better option for EDF to build reactors in France, or to extend the life of existing reactors, and then ship the power over to UK via cables. So we’d like to know, has that option been discussed with the UK government?
5. Over the last couple of years, Greenpeace has been trying to access information that explains why EDF has been given such a good deal by the UK government. The department for energy and climate change (DECC) hasn’t wanted to reveal this information to protect EDF’s commercial confidentiality. But as EDF embraces scrutiny, will EDF now ask DECC officials to share the documents so that Greenpeace doesn’t have to take them to court to see them?
6. The Hinkley reactor design is the same as the reactors being made in France, Finland and China. None of them work. All of them are behind schedule by years, and over budget by billions. What makes EDF think that Hinkley will be any different?
7. Sadly the threat of terrorism has increased in recent years, so what measures does EDF have in place to protect the Hinkley power station, and the people and environment in the surrounding areas that could be affected by an incident?
Hopefully, when the committee of MPs questions EDF tomorrow, we’ll start to see a few answers to the big issues outlined above.
Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace’s very own chief scientist, also got a call to come and give evidence to the committee. He will be answering questions as to why Greenpeace believe that Hinkley power station makes no environmental or economic sense for the country.
But what would you ask if you were there and could put questions to EDF face-to-face? Let us know in the comments below.