SNP attacks Government’s ‘nuclear obsession’

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An SNP MP has attacked the Government’s “nuclear obsession”, claiming it will result in people paying higher bills.

The party’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) spokesman Drew Hendry queried whether the minister was “finally wavering over his support for the over-budget and very, very late Hinkley Point” as he raised the issue in the Commons.

But Minister for Energy and Industry Richard Harrington maintained the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant “will turn out to be a really good deal for the taxpayer as it involves no public funds up front”.

Speaking during BEIS questions, Mr Hendry (MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) argued that until now the Government had put nuclear “at the heart of its energy strategy, but its decision to leave Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community) puts at risk the security of markets, businesses and workers in the sector”.

He added: “The minister will be aware that energy from nuclear plants will cost £92.50 per megawatt hour , but the new strike price for off-shore wind is only £57.50/MWh, nearly half.

“Will the minister confirm that he’s happy for people to pay higher bills for his Government’s nuclear obsession.”

Mr Harrington said the Government was ” in favour of a mix of energy which includes nuclear” adding it had “ensured energy security and continuity of supply that everybody enjoys”.

He added: “I’d like to thank him for effectively congratulating the Government on the results of the recent auction for energy prices. I also was delighted about the cost of off-shore (it) has effectively dropped by half.

“But I also would like to remind him that energy has to remain a mix, nuclear is part of that mix and as in all mixes to maintain continuity of supply, some is more expensive and some is cheaper.

“What matters is the average price paid and I think Hinkley will turn out to be a really good deal for the taxpayer and as it involves no public funds up front, very unusual for this kind of massive development.”