MEP for the South West, Molly Scott Cato, has said EDF faces meltdown if the company proceeds with building two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The board of directors of the company, in which the French government has an 85% stake, were due to reach a final decision on financing the project this week. However, it now looks almost certain that a final decision on funding Hinkley C will again be deferred.
This further delay comes amid reports of dissent amongst both the EDF board and employees. One of the unions representing EDF employees, and which has seats on the management board, has challenged the scheme, saying there is little benefit to French industry, no evidence it can be built on time and questioning how it will be paid for, given EDF is seriously strapped for cash – the company has seen its share price plummet by at least 50% over the past 12 months. The Union also raises concerns over pending legal cases being brought by the Austrian and Luxembourg governments and by a consortium of European renewable energy generators over whether loan guarantees constitute illegal state support. Molly said:
“The whispers in the boardroom have spilled out and created panic. EDF directors and employees knows that the deal on Hinkley simply does not stack up and the company sooner or later faces bankruptcy if they proceed with nuclear new build at Hinkley. Given that EDF is 85% owned by the French government this has now become a political tussle rather than a commercial decision. Either Energy Secretary Amber Rudd faces the collapse of UK energy policy or the French government faces the bankruptcy of its state energy generator.
“It is time Osborne came to his senses, stopped kow-towing to the Chinese to lever in cash for the City, and gave up on this white elephant. Hinkley, and government policies designed to push nuclear while undermining renewables, are also having a chilling effect on investment in the renewables sector and the grid infrastructure to go with it. We know that renewables can transform the South West providing all our energy needs cheaper, more quickly and more safely than nuclear ever can.”