Molly Scott Cato MEP, the Green Party’s economic speaker, has written to the Commission asking it to investigate whether a proposed rescue plan for Hinkley C nuclear power station is in breach of European state aid rules.
At a Franco-British summit last week, David Cameron and Francois Hollande released a joint statement re-committing to the building of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, calling the project a ‘pillar in the two countries’ bilateral relationship’ and a key element of energy policy. However, last Sunday, the EDF finance director resigned and subsequently shares in the company plummeted. EDF, in which the French government have an 85% stake, is the company with the contract to build two new reactors at Hinkley Point. It has been reported that, rather than taking dividends out of EDF the French government has been buying shares to recapitalise the company.
Molly Scott Cato, with the support of five other MEPs, has put in a ‘priority’ request to the Commission, indicating it needs urgent answers. She is MEP for the South West constituency in which Hinkley would be built and is a long-time opponent of the project. She said:
“The numbers for the Hinkley deal have never been made to stack up and the resignation of EDF’s finance director makes it clear that he refused to give in to political pressure and abandon the shareholders to whom he is actually responsible. It is clear that the commercial case for Hinkley is dead. We have now a political battle where the stakes for both the UK and France are just too high to admit failure. But we cannot let this override EU rules on state aid or fair competition”.
The written question asks the Commission to investigate whether recapitalisation is taking place and whether this constitues state aid, something which could be illegal under EU rules. In a formal written question, the MEPs have said that if evidence does suggest a breach of the rules, the Commission should re-open a state aid case on the building of new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point.
Molly Scott Cato concluded:
“We cannot stand by and allow a disastrous economic decision to plough ahead in order to save political face on both sides of the Channel. There is a Plan B based on renewable energy, energy efficiency and innovative smart grid and energy storage solutions. This is a plan I have been advocating for the last year and could be delivered in time to prevent blackouts and create 122,000 quality jobs in the process; many more than nuclear could ever hope to deliver.”