Neither the Hinkley Point page on Somerset County Council’s website, nor EDF’s Hinkley Point ‘micro-site' have been updated since about November. In December EDF delayed by three months their decision as to whether they were prepared to go ahead with the project. The Planning Inspectorate’s consideration of EDF’s application for a Development Consent Order appears to have been stalled since then too.
Back in September, the Central Somerset Gazette reported that:
- Centrica (British Gas), which has a 20% stake in the project, is thinking of pulling out.
- EDF is short of money “following government-enforced spending on reactors in France after the Fukushima atomic disaster”, and that
- EDF are consequently looking for new investment partners – notably the Chinese.
Well, it was reported earlier this month that Centrica have indeed pulled out; and prior to that there was a further raft of EU-enforced spending on reactors across the European Union, also as a result of the Fukushima disaster. This is the most likely reason for EDF having second thoughts about taking on a further large financial commitment at Hinkley Point.
Centrica’s reasons for pulling out were apparently “the increasing anticipated project costs in new nuclear, and the construction timetable extending by a number of years.” According to the Central Somerset, this decision “has sparked renewed speculation that … EDF may now link with Chinese state-owned nuclear company CGNPC.”
In September it was reported that various British MPs and energy advisers are alarmed at the “security risk” posed by the Communist Chinese potentially having access to “the intricate architecture of the UK’s national grid and the processes through which electricity supply is controlled, as well as to the UK’s nuclear technology,” but this idea does not seem to have lain down.
“The twin reactor plant which EDF proposes at Hinkley Point” as the Central Somerset reiterates, “is vital to the government’s energy strategy.” How much they are prepared to subsidise EDF, or hand over state secrets to the Chinese, rather than change course on their energy strategy, we are still to find out. These, I would assume, are the principal matters being discussed behind the scenes whilst no information is being offered to the public.