The European Commission today gave approval to plans by the UK government to give public support for the construction of a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley, provided certain adjustments are made to the contract (1). Commenting on the reports and the Greens' opposition, UK Green MEP and economics spokesperson Molly Scott Cato said:
"In waving through the massively problematic Hinkley C deal, the outgoing Barroso-led EU Commission is giving a cynical boost to nuclear power. There can be no doubt that the generous terms being offered by the UK government to EDF on Hinkley C amounts to illegal state aid under EU rules. It is a scandal that one of the final acts of the Barroso Commission is to turn a blind eye to the illegality of the Hinkley deal as some kind of quid pro quo for Germany's renewable energy support scheme. The tragic irony is that this deal, and the precedent it creates, is a massive setback for renewable energy in the UK, with small producers unable to compete on these terms."
Greens/EFA co-president and nuclear spokesperson Rebecca Harms stated:
"This precedent would have potentially massive implications for the EU energy market and the goal to boost the share of clean, safe and home-grown renewable energies. Today's decision by the Commission cannot be the last word. A number of affected actors have indicated they will initiate legal challenges and our group will fully support these challenges in any way possible. The European Commission cannot be allowed to clear the path for further exorbitant public spending on this dated and dangerous technology, when we should be promoting a safe and sustainable energy future for Europe."
(1) Under the contract for the construction of the Hinkley C reactor, Electricité de France (EDF) would receive a guaranteed price £92.50 per MWh (roughly twice the current wholesale price), as well as a credit guarantee of £10bn (€12.7bn) from the UK government. The Commission has insisted on an adjustment in the terms as regards the return accruable to the exchequer.