|Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said: “This is a further move by the Government to rig the energy market against renewables in favour of nuclear and gas".|
The Government is rigging the energy market after its announced nuclear power would pay five times less than wind energy in community benefit.
Ministers announced yesterday that communities around eight sites (Hinkley Point, Sizewell, Wylfa, Oldbury, Sellafield, Bradwell, Heysham, and Hartlepool) in England and Wales could be in line to receive benefits - otherwise known as bribes - worth up to £1000/MW over 40 years from when and if nuclear power stations sited there begin operating.
The founder of leading renewable energy supplier Ecotricity, Dale Vince, said: “This is a further move by the Government to rig the energy market against renewables in favour of nuclear and gas. Nuclear power is already being fast-tracked through the planning system and today they’ve announced nuclear will pay a fraction of the community benefit paid by wind power.”
On July 6 the Government announced that onshore wind farms should pay £5,000/MW in community benefit – an increase of five fold. At that time Mr Vince said: “Will we see the same logic being applied to the new generation of gas plants and nuclear power stations? This is a slippery slope.”
Dr Doug Parr, Chief Scientist at Greenpeace UK, commented: “Whilst wind farms and even shale gas developers have to pay community benefits, only nuclear stations will get a fat taxpayer subsidy to fund them.
"Our entire energy policy is now absurdly distorted by the desperation to prop up EDF’s faltering Hinkley C project, with the government piling the costs onto the taxpayer to avoid the embarrassment of admitting they backed the wrong technology. We can’t go on like this.”
Dale Vince added: “This shows the Government’s approach to energy policy. Firstly, to fast-track planning for nuclear and gas; secondly, allowing nuclear to pay community benefit that’s one fifth the cost burden of wind power; and thirdly, the new mechanism of financial support (Contracts for Difference), which it’s widely believed will be two to three times higher for nuclear when compared to onshore wind.
“When you put those three parts together it shows an energy market being rigged. The Government shouldn’t be picking winners in the energy industry, they should be providing a level playing field for competition. Are they really saying the impact of nuclear power in one fifth that of wind power?
“After 25 years, windmills are removed and the land returned to nature. The impact of nuclear power remains for hundreds of years and those sites will stay radioactive and never be safe."
The Government is clearly only thinking short term. What happens after 40 years is up and the site is radioactive?
Its motivation is the expected creation of employment, which it estimates as "up to 40,000 jobs in the sector" but crucially "at its peak", ie during the construction phase.
Its nuclear industrial strategy sets out the basis for a long-term partnership between government and industry to exploit those opportunities.
But communities hosting nuclear sites will be left with the toxic legacy long after these benefits have been forgotten.