My own particular question was to do with the road-strengthening work carried out in Chilkwell Street and Bere Lane last spring. This was not, we were assured, financed by EDF (though they have paid for road improvements around Bridgwater); indeed the work in Glastonbury took place towards the end of the financial year, when Transport Departments traditionally use up their budgets carrying out an assortment of not-quite-priority road works. Whether or not part of their reasoning was “and we’d better get this done, seeing as the A361 might have to carry all the aggregate lorries for Hinkley Point” we shall probably never know.
I also asked (this morning) about the promised public meeting on the subject of Hinkley Point - and apparently it’s being planned, though no date is available yet. This meeting was supposed to include speakers from the various parties involved – including, we all hope, EDF. It is just possible that it is EDF who can’t commit to a date.
It was reported in the Guardian on December 7th (ten days after the Council meeting here in Glastonbury) that EDF would not after all commit themselves by the end of 2012 to raising the finance to build Hinkley C: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/dec/07/nuclear-edf-hinkley-point This decision has been postponed for three months. So my guess is that if EDF do take part in any public meetings it won’t be until at least April.
This little glitch in the progress towards a new and enormous generation of nuclear power stations in the UK has scarcely been mentioned anywhere. Certainly there is nothing about it on Somerset County Council’s website, nor on EDF’s Hinkley Point ‘micro-site'.
EDF do say that the government’s Planning Inspectorate will make its recommendation to the Secretary of State regarding its application for a ‘Development Consent Order’ to build Hinkley C "by the end of the year” (2012). As yet there is still no official word, nor any explanation as to why it is late; though I dare say we can assume that it will arrive soon, and will probably be followed in due course by the Secretary of State’s approval (expected in 3 or 4 months time).
The website shows a pleasing image of the site, ready and willing to become home to a smart modern nuclear power station. There are no images of what the site now looks like after trees, hedges, farm buildings and one or two ancient features of archaeological interest have been cleared away. This has been done already, the subject of a local planning application separate from central government’s Development Consent Order. EDF have agreed, of course, to put it all back to useful and agreeable farmland should they turn out to be unable (or unwilling) to continue with construction work.
After the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan, the French government insisted on all its nuclear power stations being up-graded, at EDF’s expense. Since there are more than fifty of them, this cost a lot of money. And once it had been done, the European Union insisted on further, and more stringent, improvements. In addition, the changes have contributed to the escalation in the estimated cost of Hinkley C: £13 billion and rising.
So it’s little wonder that EDF are feeling the pinch. Realistically, this will be the crucial factor in deciding whether construction of Hinkley C goes ahead as planned.
In the mean time, if you would like to add your name to an on-line petition aimed at stopping the Hinkley Point construction, you can go here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/End_Nuclear_Insanity_NOW_Ban_Construction_of_Hinkley_C_Nuclear_Power_Station/?wPKymab