Shock, anger and relief greets UK’s surprise delay of Hinkley nuclear plant

The government’s announcement that it was to delay granting permission to build the UK’s first nuclear reactor for 21 years was greeted by a wide range of reactions among British commentators.

A few hours after EDF’s board voted 10-to-seven to approve the £18bn ($24bn) scheme, energy secretary Greg Clark announced that he needed until September to study the subsidy contract.

The GMB union described this decision as "bewildering and bonkers", and Barry Gardiner, the Labour party’s shadow energy secretary, said the government’s handling of the situation had been "absolute chaos".

The plan to build the 3.2GW Hinkley Point C was first announced six years ago, after which a final decision on whether to go ahead has been repeatedly delayed, and the project has been beset by doubts over its price and EDF’s ability to fund it, as well as concern over the reliability of its core technology, the European Pressurised Reactor.

Jean-Bernard Levy, the chief executive of EDF, responded to the news of the last-minute postponement by saying he has "no doubt about the support of the British government led by Mrs May".

However, The Financial Times noted that although successive British governments have supported the scheme, May has never given it her personal backing.

"Mrs. May met French President Francois Hollande last week, during which the pair discussed the project," says the paper. "One person said the scheme was expected to proceed after the review but conceded that the delay had not been expected."

The UK press pointed out that EDF had originally intended to make its decision in September, but The Times added that the decision is likely "to unnerve" the French company.

Meanwhile, an editorial in The Guardian newspaper argued that the delay should lead to the scrapping of the scheme in its current form, as the technology was too uncertain and the cost too high.


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  1. The whole life duration costs plus the final disposal costs would surely reveal that natural renewable energy generating options ,even at this, stage have the overall price and unit cost advantage! In addition, given the historic and recent calamities resulting from these nuclear power stations ,the public perceptions of them would generally tend to be negative! No government can be insensitive to the majority
    views of those who elected them into power!

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