State aid challenge to Hinkley

Any French state financial support for EDF to build new nuclear reactors at Hinkley would almost certainly be blocked by the European Commission, according to a legal opinion [1] commissioned by Greenpeace. Green MEP for the region and long-time opponent of the project, welcomed the opinion which follows her own challenge to the European Commission. In March Molly wrote 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. A response is expected within days. Molly said:

“The numbers for the Hinkley deal have never stacked up and it is clear that the commercial case for this white elephant 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.”

However, President Hollande is expected to throw his weight behind state support for EDF. Molly has slammed such a move as ‘economic blindness at the highest political level.’ She said:

“With EDF close to bankruptcy and serious questions over the legality of state aid for the project the French government and the French President are showing themselves to be totally irresponsible. The Board of EDF must put the interests of its shareholders and employees first and avoid committing economic suicide by rejecting a final investment decision.”

Earlier in the week, Energy secretary, Amber Rudd, appeared to be contemplating the possibility that Hinkley might not ever be built when she acknowledged that further delays or even a cancellation would not compromise national energy supply. Molly said:

“We know the lights won’t go out if we there is a concerted effort to implement 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.”