We believe that Central Government has failed to consult fully on a key EU Directive 2014/87 which is the responsibility of ONR.
We will continue to ask questions about this important Regulation.

The “Working with Communities” consultation concerning Geological Disposal Facilities which may be built to contain spent fuel is described as flawed by many NGOs. It is felt that a GDF should be for legacy waste and should not include waste from new facilities. The concern is that we do not know what experience there is of the management and storage of High Burn up Fuel, which may be used at SZC. The reason for the use of High burn up fuel is to ensure maximum profit for the operator.

We have discovered that there is a short fall of at least £10 billion pounds in the nuclear liabilities fund, which is meant to cover the decommissioning of the EDF fleet of nuclear power plants.

BEIS is studying the responses to the Consultation on EN6, they have said that Nuclear must compete on finance and with evolving technology.

Which must mean that there is not much wriggle room for HPC and SZC. This is the situation which has lead to Horizon (Hitachi for the Wylfa plant) seeking a funding package from Central Government. This has been widely reported in many newpapers in particular the Times. Likewise EDF have also been seeking a solution to their financial problems. TASC believes the developers should have to prove to the Government and the regulators that they are financially sound and can deliver their plans without Government funding. If any Nuclear site fails to deliver or becomes a liability it should not be the public purse that has to fund any rescue package. Hopefully Central Government has learned the lesson of Carillion.

Hinkley Point C is proving to be a moving target. They achieved their Planning Consent via PINs, DECC and the then Secretary of State. We have now discovered that there is an application for increasing the size of 4 buildings, redesigning 12 buildings and structures and changing the location of 3buildings and realigning the sea wall. These have all been approved.
However another proposed change/addition to the wet storage is for a Dry Storage facility (which may be comparable to the SZB store ) this has not been approved.
This means that a Dry Fuel Store was not applied for at the initial planning stage. It is a question TASC has asked several times for the SZC site.The site is much smaller than Hinkley and more restricted with different geology. We have grave concern about any creeping development in what is a very sensitive habitat. We will continue to watch this situation closely.

TASC continues with its objections to new nuclear facilities at Sizewell and find the lack of information on so many subjects very frustrating. These include, transport Planning, mitigation for loss of designated habitat, how the Marine Landing Facility traffic is going to transverse the sensitive dunes and Heritage Coast Footpath. How any work to the seabed on the marine landing facility and the cooling water pipe work will effect coastal erosion. How much land will the extraneous works outside the Nuclear Licensed site require.
Lastly will the scar that the Works Access Road will make on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB ever fit in with the AONB designation?

Joan Girling.

An overview of what TASC has been doing recently

1) We have responded to a Government consultation on National Policy Document (NPS) EN6, the planning document which the Planning Inspectorate will use to consider new build Nuclear Energy Plant with an output of over 1gigawatt proposed to be constructed from 2026 to 2035. It will replace the existing EN6 policy statement.

In our response, we question whether Sizewell C will be deployed (producing power) by 2025 and under which NPS document Sizewell C will be determined.

With the abundance of affordable renewable energy technologies which create no radioactive waste and little CO2, TASC feel that to build another nuclear power station with two reactors at Sizewell, with the East Suffolk coast in such a perilous condition through erosion would be foolhardy.

      It is a political decision NOT a necessity.
      You can read our full response on the TASC website.

 

2) We have also responded to a Government Consultation for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) for higher activity nuclear waste to be built somewhere in England. This will require an underground site 25 kilometres square and up to 1000metres. This will be for the placement of several types of nuclear waste.

      How to manage radioactive waste in the long term is a complex and highly

      contentious issue which raises many technical, scientific and ethical

problems. A key issue is the question: disposal or repository? As a Government facility it will need to be monitored and guarded for many hundreds of years, meaning that the facility will have to remain open for security purposes. It can only be sealed if and when the behaviour of the disposed waste over millennia is understood and at present the authorities are grappling with dozens of scientific and technical uncertainties related to long term safety of waste which has to be ‘isolated’ from the biosphere, an objective which cannot be achieved given the need to vent gases as the waste decays.

You can read our full response on the TASC website.

 

3) One of our Members joined with other NGO members (Non Governmental Organisations) from around the country to attend an ONR (Office of Nuclear Regulation) Forum Meeting. TASC has been concerned that the ONR who are the watchdog over the Nuclear Power plants work to a rule of first considering the economics of the power plant rather than the safety. This is due to Government insisting that there should not be any interference with the economics of the plant. TASC are pleased to support the appointment of an NGO Co Chair for the Forum meetings which will hopefully improve the dialogue between ONR and the NGOs.

ASN the French regulator has once again cast doubt over the EDF Flamanville plant welds and have asked for more work to be undertaken.

For the full story http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Regulator-asks-EDF-to-extend-Flamanville-weld-checks-1204184.htm l

 

4) Early April TASC members met with chief officers and members of JLAG (Joint Local Authorities Group) of Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council. They had no further news on the progress of EDF and Sizewell C. They had nothing new to report on the different modes of transport which were discussed at the 2nd Consultation. Neither had they any more information about the accommodation blocks.

It would appear that JLAG consider Sizewell to be a huge economic opportunity for East Suffolk and consider latching new housing, new businesses, and road building on to the possible development. TASC believe this is a big mistake as the disbenefits of SZC far outweigh any benefits.

We asked JLAG if they had responded to the Government’s NPS EN6 and they offered to supply a copy of both the JLAG response and the NNLAG (New Nuclear Local Authorities Group) version. We now have both copies. If anyone wishes to see them I am told they are on the SCDC Website

 

5) EDF considered at the 2nd Consultation that the bend on the A12 may need some attention at Farnham and put in an option for a by pass to alleviate the problem at that point. However since then, consideration for the A12 Farnham to Marlesford 4 Villages By Pass now called SEGway (Suffolk Energy Gateway) is being promoted by Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council they have submitted a business case to the Dept for Transport following a study by “Jacobs” called the SEGway Business case. The Councils are hoping to secure funding of up to £133 million from EDF, Central Government and various other partners.

For the full document go to

SEGway-Strategic-Case-Executive-Summary-and-Chapter-1.pdf

A large group of people from the By Pass area are very concerned about the possibility of a new road crossing such a long stretch of virgin land which has many environmental designations. They have set up the Bypass Action Group (BPAG). They held a very well-attended meeting at Blaxhall and are fund raising to pay for any legal advice they may need.

      They also have a facebook page

 

      6) TASC have learned from EDF that the 3rd Consultation on Sizewell C will not take place until early 2019. Following on from the 3rd Consultation, the DCO (Development Consent Order) will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. So we have quite a time to wait before we see any firm plans.

Therefore once again local people who will be affected by the possible development of SZC will have to wait until EDF and the Government tell us what they intend for the future of our area.

Download here 

What on earth is going on with Hinkley and UK nuclear?

STOP-PRESS (1) The existence of a ‘poison pill’ clause has broken through the secrecy surrounding the detailed agreement between the UK government and EDF. If political or policy change happens over the 60 year Hinkley lifespan, UK taxpayers would be required to ‘compensate’ EDF for commercial loss to the tune of as much as £22bn. (Guardian 21.03.16). ‘Poison pills’ are normal for inward investors, but this is hardly a ‘normal’ project.

STOP-PRESS (2) Greenpeace have won access to an oral appeal tribunal on a Freedom of Information refusal of key documents about the UK/EDF deal (Guardian 20.3.16).

STOP-PRESS (3) Private Eye (13.03.16) reveals that European ‘rules’ mean that agreed financial aid to Hinkley cannot be triggered until EDF have proved the EPR design by completing the Finnish and France’s own Flamanville EPRs. Both are now scheduled for 2019.

STOP-PRESS (4) EDF have agreed to take on part of the financial risk of construction delays faced by their China partner CGN. If costs overrun by 5bn Euros, EDF will have to meet 80% of this figure.

After another month of new dates, new financing models and new problems, the media are now mainly hostile if not openly deriding the Hinkley deal, and speculation is rife about what might really be happening. The Times leading editorial (3.03.16) dubbed Hinkley a “Nuclear Disaster” and called for its abandonment. What a way to run an energy policy.

So, what is going on? Certainly there are conjuring tricks, charades, blame games and, hard to dispute, uncertainty and blight for communities and businesses affected – not the least, here in Suffolk.

New information: The roller coaster is revealing interesting new information, some of which will hopefully be clearer after the questioning of EDF, the other 2 nuclear companies and experts etc by Parliament’s Select Committee for Climate and Energy on March 23rd (full report next issue).

New information is the revelation from EDF’s CEO JB Levy to Reuters that the design changes to Hinkley are “no more than 20%”. That’s new.

Second, again from French sources, is that at least one of the three or four French government new methods of subsidising EDF with French tax payers money is likely to arouse the active interest of the Competition authorities in Brussels. The design changes raise questions, not the least about whether the design of Hinkley’s EPR was approved before the changes.

Hinkley costs drop from £24.5 bn to £18 bn? Is the new EDF build figure of £18bn (uprated from £16bn when Brussels looked at it) a result of the design changes, and/or financing methods? An Imperial College academic expert asked on Radio 4 about this disparity in costs thought one way to cut costs might be to scrap the second containment vessel. This is claimed to be a key safety feature of the EPR reactor. And EDF have recently talked about a ‘modified EPR’ for France. Is this something entirely separate from Hinkley?

The huge price drop is most likely explained by changed financing methods, but maybe the other changes also contribute. Since EDF can’t get open market finance (equity/loans), it now has only direct China money (£4bn) and it’s own (or French Government capital) and more of this to come, apparently. If an element of the original high strike price was to cover normal outside finance risk, shouldn’t the strike price be revised downwards? If design changes have cut costs, surely the same argument applies. The case for Brussels to revisit the case looks reasonable, and France is certainly aware of this possibility. French commentators have asked whether giving money to EDF by transferring EDF’s existing stake in the French electricity grid to a state bank is a subsidy. The idea is that the state bank would then invest in EFD. Whatever emerges, the magically lower £18 (£16bn) figure looks important. However, STOP PRESS 4 indicates that costs may already been rising beyond the £18bn level.

French auditors downgrade it as well. Meanwhile, the ‘low amber’ credit rating for the project by the UK Public Audit Office (fourth lowest of five rankings) has been echoed by the French national audit bureau, making EDF’s UK plans an open French political issue. The professional engineering unions in EDF have now been joined by the manual workers’ union through their worker share funds in warning that Hinkley puts their whole future at risk.

New dates for old? All this has not (yet) changed any prospective dates. EDF chief JB Levy has not changed the promise that they will be ready to pour concrete in 3 or more years’ time. The next two top EDF meetings (the Board and the Shareholders) may discuss and decide something but who knows? May is now mentioned by the press as a possible decision period. No clues on this here at home, where Chancellor Osborne’s Budget did not say anything about the issue except for his already announced £250m backing of development for new 4th generation mini nukes. His roads announcements didn’t mention the A12 or Sizewell related matters.

Courts and profits. For the moment two further observations:

(1) the competition case at the European Court of Justice is waiting in the queue, and since European Treaty matters are involved, this will be long-winded with first an Advocate General ‘opinion’, and then, most likely, a Court examination afterwards. Second, even with magic money, if EDF can’t afford Hinkley without a huge capital subsidy as well as price subsidy, how on earth can it be credible that they can afford Sizewell?

(2) Along with other big energy companies in Europe, global low energy prices have hit company profits, with, for example, Npower (Germany’s RWE) announcing 2,500 redundancies from its 11,500 UK workforce. The parent company has made losses overall this year. The UK EDF operation was very profitable (£700m net profit last year, sent back to France after a little bit of UK tax). But since Sizewell B and the old EDF nuclear stations cannot cut their costs except marginally (one the economic problems of nuclear stations), even these profits won’t be available for some time. Further, with EDF’s privileged direct nuclear electricity contract with the UK government to supply public buildings – the biggest ever UK electricity supply contact – coming to an end now, their UK profits are likely to dip further. Global investors RCB Capital Markets, via Bloomberg’s financial news service have said EDF is “uninvestable” and needs to be fully re-nationalised if it pursues the Hinkley project.

Meanwhile, Government policy moves Energy Secretary of State Amber Rudd has “reset” - not reviewed - UK energy policy with life extensions for the old AGR nuclear stations and Sizewell B (World Nuclear News 4.2.15). And coal station closures by 2025. And who knows what will happen with the other two nuclear operators’ plans for Anglesey and Sellafield Moorside. It looks as though the whole energy strategy should just go in the bin.

It leaves Suffolk with uncertainty, blight, maybe even big surprises like EDF selling off sites to China, not just Bradwell. As we’ve said for some time, it is all bad news for Suffolk : maybe some of our politicians should start living in the real world and join us saying Sizewell C is just not suitable for Suffolk.

Road campaigners now want rail and sea jetty use. EADT (12.03.16) report that the B1122 Action Group now want a rail loop and a ‘successful’ sea jetty. The story reveals new traffic figures too: EDF say HGV movements could range from 200 to 600 per day, but maybe sometimes up to 900, and 510 small trucks (under 3.5 tons). No car figures though. EDF said its second stage consultation might be in the ‘next few months once a final investment decision has been made’, whatever this might mean.

Wildlife writer’s reminder about European protection laws in AONB. Welcome reflection by EADT wildlife writer John Grant, musing on the EU referendum issue, abut how important Europe has been protecting wildlife in our AONB. (EADT 27.2.16). TASC has been studying these laws and rules very closely as part of its case against more nuclear in Suffolk. Since Sizewell B, nature is weaker, protective laws in part stronger and the big build threat much bigger.

UK Energy Policy is ‘drifting aimlessly” So who said that and where? Well, it was former CBI (industry federation) chief Lord Adair Turner, to the Parliament Select Committee on Climate Change and Energy. MPs on the Committee warned that sudden cuts to renewable energy subsidies are spooking investors and will raise energy bills. These are already £400 a year too high for average families say WHICH (3.03.16). Meanwhile the Lord Adonis Infrastructure Commission reports that better energy management could save the UK £8bn annually.

Global investment boost in clean (renewable) energy. Global investment in 2014 (latest figures) jumped by 16%, a figure which purchased nearly twice the amount of clean power capacity that the same money bought in 2011. That’s real productivity growth. It comes mostly from rapidly falling solar panel costs, solar making up half of total clean investment. China’s investment tops the list at $90bn (32%), then come the USA and Japan. France opened the world’s biggest solar plant with 300MWhr capacity, while German and UK investment was very low at 3%, and mainly in offshore wind capacity.

Japan’s Nuclear Mess: still dangerous after 5 years, courts close re-opened reactors. Shutting its 40 nuclear reactors after the March 11th, 2011 Fukushima disaster, Japan’s investigations of radiation impact on people and wildlife continue, with 1,100 square kilometres of land remaining uninhabitable. Only robots are allowed into the melted down reactors, now facing another 5 years before even protected workers might gain access. The ex Prime Minister says Japan was on a “paper thin margin from disaster”. Two reactors which have been re-started have now been re-closed after re-opening. This month only 2 were operating, although 20 have applied to restart.

Suffolk homeowners air Sizewell C blight issues. At long last, the impact of uncertainty about Sizewell C plans has surfaced. EADT (3.03.16) front-paged ”doubt leaves us in limbo”. Businesses “can’t plan”, there is a “black cloud” on transport issues, there was a “huge impact” during Sizewell B building and “it was very disruptive”. The homeowner bit was not attributed, but it speaks volumes.

US firm exploring small nukes manufacture in UK. Toshiba’s American Westinghouse company, who are nuclear sub engine manufacturers, are looking at opening an SMR (small modular reactor) factory in the UK. Attracted by £250m UK government grant for five years to start SMR research, their existing AP1000 reactor is undergoing UK approval for Sellafield (Moorside).


Bulletin available on- tasizewellc.org.uk


JOIN TASC  Details to : TASC C/O Wood Farm, Westward Ho, Leiston, Suffolk IP164HT

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As a new 3 year Hinkley “delay” unfolds, what does this mean for Sizewell C (&D)?

Serious world commentators (Reuters, World Nuclear News) report that neither the management board of EDF, nor the following shareholders’ meeting in Paris actually discussed, as expected, the Hinkley crisis. But a new delay decision was nevertheless announced by the Chief Executive Officer J-B Levy on February 16th. He declared that EDF would be ready to “pour first concrete” at Hinkley in three or a bit more years. It was “on the horizon for 2019”. However, detailed agreement with China’s nuclear company CGN was not yet completed, and low energy prices in Europe meant, he said, no non-subsidised energy investment was taking place, and that EDF were still looking at Hinkley financing in this light. European energy producers have also agreed to a new lobby of the Brussels Commission on subsidies. Meanwhile, some landscaping by bulldozers will continue at Hinkley. He also said “we have the intention to proceed rapidly with the investment decision for Hinkley Point”, if that means anything in the context.

Whatever can be read into all this, a worrying and very real decision has been made by EDF to extend the lives of 4 of their very old AGR reactors at three of their other UK sites, by variously 5 to 7 years, to 2024 for two, and 2030 for the other two (Heysham, Torness and Hartlepool sites). Sizewell’s PWR has only been operating for 21 years so far for its 40 year life, but is also to be extended to 60 years. All of this may still be subject to approval by the Office of Nuclear Regulation which is, incidentally, reported to be short of funds and senior personnel.

----------TASC’s Viewpoint-------------

TASC points out that Suffolk will suffer more uncertainty, more economic blight, more local taxpayers’ cash spent on road building illusions (the Government has no money) and more uncertainty about the future of the real Suffolk assets. We continue to prepare for full opposition to the Sizewell C (&D) project: simply not suitable for Suffolk, wrong technology, utterly unfair new national planning fix etc. Our work programme on energy policy options, woeful emergency services, environmental issues – roads, tourism, property prices, social and physical infrastructure and the crucial 54 nature and wildlife assets – continues.
---------------------------------------------------------------

What does it all mean ? Our local newspapers and media don’t seem to know, other than repeating bland Sizewell statements (EADT 28.1.16 reported EDF playing down speculation about further Sizewell delays) and national and local politicians have said nothing. EADT did however concede that the whole matter of Sizewell consultation may be “stalled”, although a tiny editorial at the end of January “pitied” the delays and “trusted” the region would still get its economic spin-off boost. The core issue is whether this is (just) another delay caused by the EPR’s well-known problems and the restrictive European ruling on its subsidisation. Or, in reality, is this the end of the road for the EPR, subject to politicians finding someone to blame?

Some Brussels and Paris commentators reckon that both the French and British governments might, behind the scenes, rather like the European Court of Justice case –maybe taking another 18 months - to get them off the hook. Others reckon EDF will take at least 3 years to find the money from its sell-off programmes (plus maybe Bradwell to China) but even that will not be enough, so “pouring concrete” will be delayed again. Others that if the UK leaves the European Union, the European Court restraint will no longer apply and UK taxpayers would then be milked for 50 years (15 to build, 35 year’s operating subsidy) to save UK political faces with a direct government subsidy for EDF. If anything is clear, no private finance is going near Hinkley after its very low credit rating for Lord Adonis’ new Infrastructure Commission. This Commission ( Private Eye story) will be a Private Finance Initiative body (PFI2), guaranteeing high profits for UK and foreign investors from public projects. But if that were to be the approach of the Government, it would violate the terms of the Brussels agreement on the strike price of £92.50 per megawatthour. We think the high strike price and drop in world energy prices already does that in any case. This analysis points up the importance of the UK Brexit issue, and J-B Levy did respond albeit evasively to the effect it would make no difference !

There is also a ‘rabbit out of the hat’ line of speculation that somehow funds will be found to force this ghastly project through. Politicians and big companies being what they are, and UK and world energy policies being in such a mess, daft and in our view dangerous and unnecessary decisions can still be taken. Politicians, to save face, might simply pass the mess on to future generations (60 years operating life, 100 years nuclear waste run down) and think they can walk away.

What counts against this are the increasingly clear views that (1) the EPR is a bad and costly nuclear reactor and (2) that no-one serious is going to put any real money into it even if the government can afford the relevant level of subsidy. And (3) that global energy market trends and climate change politics make big nuclear solutions increasingly unattractive.

This view has come into the open through EDF competitor company Horizon (now Hitachi owned) who plan to build their own (American/Japanese) reactors on Anglesey (Wylfa) and at Oldbury in the Bristol Channel. Interviewed by the D.Telegraph (15.02.16) Alan Raymant, chief operating officer says private finance is crucial since state-owned firms like EDF (and maybe China’s CGN) simply can’t raise the cash. His Japanese boss says financing and delay problems raise ”very serious concerns” about their own project. It looks like round and round the mulberry bush…..

The best speculation so far (our own too, and we were right in earlier TASC Bulletins about EDF’s capital shortage even for Hinkley) is that delay is legally required in any case because of the European Court of Justice case being pursued by Austria, Greece and German renewable companies against the Hinkley subsidy price. The anti case could be boosted by market developments. This price itself is now massively out of line with foreseeable world energy prices on one side, and the EPR’s real and very high direct and indirect costs on the other side. The £92.50 strike price can best be seen as an unhappy compromise with neither market relevance nor real cost covering – or commercial profits. A sign of the times may be that EDF’s own Chief Development Officer for Hinkley has resigned and gone to work nuclear in America.

What rings true here in Suffolk is that if Hinkley is proving so impossibly difficult to finance, and EDF is not expecting any major business turn-round in the foreseeable future, there simply isn’t going to be any money for following up Hinkley with Sizewell.

However, we also think there might be a rather sad little Suffolk rabbit pulled out of the hat with EDF dropping the “financial investment decision” trigger for the second stage consultation and announcing a date, just as a face-saver, especially since the gap between Phase 2 and the final consultation is likely to be two more years.

‘No’ evacuation drill for Sizewell emergencies:

Andy Osman, Suffolk County Council’s Chief Emergency Planning Officer, has announced that there will be no ‘real time’ emergency drill to prepare people around the Sizewell plant for an evacuation in the event of a major off-site radiological incident.  This announcement comes in response to a call from one of the Site Stakeholder Group’s co-opted members, Pete Wilkinson, who requested such a drill to be carried out in the wake of a similar programme being conducted in Japan after the Fukushima disaster and to test the official claim that the Sizewell emergency plan would ensure peoples’ safety. The justification for the refusal to undertake an evacuation drill is that an exercise of the scale required to put the plan to a rigorous test would cause more alarm than it would help prepare people for a ‘low probability, high consequence’ accident on a Fukushima or Chernobyl scale.  Wilkinson argues that a full scale drill would show the plan up for what it is – inadequate and effectively useless in its ability to evacuate local residents to safety: ‘Suffolk Resilience Forum has an obligation to demonstrate the plan’s effectiveness but a few minutes’ thought will make it clear to even the most  ardent cheerleader for nuclear power that the plan is not fit for purpose’, he commented. 

 

EADT Letters this month (no TASC association implied)Pete Wilkinson - a long letter about appalling blue light services and refusal of real-life emergency evacuation exercises for Sizewell B (1.2.16). Tom Haslam ‘Poor transport links means Sizewell C is flawed’ (28.1.16) Another on the roads controversy argued ‘Not a gateway… more a nightmare’(19.1.16).

Sizewell A’s radiation zone removed: claiming A is no longer a threat to the public (not something admitted previously, of course) completed decommissioning (?) is announced like a bright sunny day. Truth is 10% of the official radiation hazard remains, radiation decay won’t reach a theoretically safe level till 2088, and only then can buildings be taken down. But a ‘future uses’ consultation exercise has been launched… who are they kidding ?

France’s nuclear accident exercise: 400,000 homes within 10 kilometers of nuclear sites have been issued iodine tablets in a 7 yearly exercise.

Henning Mankell’s nuclear waste swansong: the acclaimed Swedish thriller writer’s (TV’s Wallender series) final book before his death in October last year singles out nuclear waste burrowed under European mountains for 100,000 years as our generation’s worst gift to the future. How can we communicate to them “Danger: Keep out”, he asked.

 

Bulletin available on- tasizewellc.org.uk


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Please note that there is an error in our article which refers to the B1122 Action Group for which we have apologised.


EDF financial troubles continue
Serious financial problems at EDF headquarters in Paris are now becoming routine items for world money journalists and the world nuclear industry. Reuters press agency and World Nuclear News both report that EDF is having to open its books in advance of a shareholder meeting next month. Not only have they had to borrow money to pay shareholders (the French Government and a few others) a dividend, they are facing huge future costs for uprating safety standards after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. They have a big gap between the future estimates of waste storage, EDF saying it will cost €20bn and France’s official nuclear waste agency saying €36bn. Then they still have to absorb ailing Areva who make the very expensive and not yet completed European Pressurised Water Reactor planned for Hinkley and Sizewell. To put it all in perspective, EDF UK have been coining it at about £1.5 bn a year gross profit. Hinkley will costs EDF at least £12bn (and China £6bn and the UK at least another £2bn). It’s fair to guess that the UK profits have been going back to Paris not least because the £ is worth a lot extra to €shareholders. But even if all of the UK profit were retained here for Hinkley, it would take over 10 years to save up to pay for just Hinkley’s two EPRs. The bad overall EDF financial news means it is extremely unlikely independent investors will come forwards, and as world energy prices keep falling, even the falsely high strike price for electricity isn’t enough for them to risk good capital.

The big – but maybe not big enough – EDF sell-off
The Financial Times sister paper Les Echos in Paris announced in the New year that EDF is to sell off half of its stake in France’s national electricity grid and lots of other investments. Going are assets in Hungary and Austria, $2 bn in the USA, and the big news, a 29% share in their UK nuclear reactor fleet which is valued at a mere £9bn, producing about £2.7bn. The total sell-ff, to be completed by 2018 may raise about £8.bn. The news was explained by EDF’s overall debt figure in Paris of £27 bn. The report also reveals that some of this money is for Hinkley, but it can’t be used twice so has to be assessed alongside the first story above. Meanwhile December’s other news was that half of the £24 bn Hinkley investment (note the higher figure again) will go to overseas suppliers, and as much as 40% of these will be French. (Guardian 6.12.15).

National Audit Office (UK Government) downgrades Hinkley infrastructure project
The Government is so short of money (austerity/public debt etc) that an NAO report on priorities for national infrastructure spending has downgraded Hinkley to ”amber/red” on a 5 colour scale starting with green and yellow. This comes just before the new Infrastructure Commission under former Labour minister Lord Adonis starts his own review work. If you ask why is Hinkley a matter for public finance downgrading if it is private, well the truth will out: official statistics now count the guarantees and strike price subsidy as ‘public support’ which at the end of the day will be down to the Treasury, even though they want us to pay for it through a consumer levy. That’s the rub for them: a consumer levy is just a tax by another name. And the estimated cost of Hinkley ? Well, the 2015 figure for “whole UK cost” is £14,286 million. In 2012 it was £21 million – not billion, just £21 million. The murk and smoke and mirrors have really gone beserk….By comparison, the whole HS2 railway programme is now to cost £43bn.

Apologies for all this financial stuff, but it paints a very different picture to the one coming from Sizewell EDF’s public relations office. This suggests everything is hunky-dory and on track. It begs a big question about local politicians: do they know the truth about EDF finances ? If so, why are they cheerfully spending our money on new road plans for Sizewell C ? Suffolk County Council £450,000, Suffolk Coastal DC £50,000 ! Did we say spending, or should we have said wasting ?

Granite or blue clay?
An interesting aside is that France’s proposed geological nuclear waste depository will be in a 15 square km blue clay belt north east of Paris. The UK’s proposal remains in Lake District granite. There is some blue clay in the UK, some around North Norfolk/the Wash.

Both roads campaigns, for B1122 and 4 Villages are rebranded
The two local roads campaigns have gone in for rebranding, while maintaining they are not anti-nuclear, which we in TASC find rather odd and not at all necessary. There is a perfectly sensible set of arguments, on traditional planning grounds, to say that more nuclear and very big nuclear at Sizewell is just not good for Suffolk. So much has changed: nature is more extensive in the huge Coastal AONB, nature is much more precarious, environmental laws are necessarily tougher, tourism has developed to being a core industry, a lot more housing causes overdevelopment strains, property prices depend on nature and landscape, not nuclear plants and, crucially, new energy technologies and old nuclear problems and risks make nuclear quite unnecessary, if it ever was.

Anyhow, lecture over, the Four Villages bypass campaign is now to be called the Energy Gateway and our local politicians are spending yet more money on another transport study. The B1122 campaign group have produced a new leaflet with a demand for traffic engineers to find a new relief road direct from the A12 to Sizewell, south of Saxmundham and Leiston. This relaunches an old idea from Sizewell B days, then called the D2 road. There is to be a new local questionaire: we suggest that if there are questions that can be answered to tell the truth about the traffic havoc coming, fill in the answers and write “No to Sizewell C “ or something like that on the form. These campaigns are living in a phantasy world of national and local tax payers funding huge sums of money for EDF’s benefit. They should recognise the realities and come off the fence (it must have been painful enough already to produce the rebrandings !) There is also a piece of political trickery mixed up in it all: under the well known Grampian planning doctrine, big developers like EDF are supposed to do their own funding of access routes and do them in good time to minimise social disruption. But if the road plans can be dressed up as in the public interest, and be charged to gullible taxpayers, the Grampian rule might not apply so directly. EDF could then start up without doing real access road work except bits needed ‘directly’ like from the existing B1122 to the employee camp and the construction yard. Many thoughts will emerge as the rebrandings come under the microscope of pubic opinion. One thought is what would anyone do with a new A12 relief road afterwards? Can’t really see tourists flocking to visit the new Sizewell C reactors, especially if the wildlife has been trashed all around it…..

Meanwhile, the roads issues about Sizewell C are being played out amid campaigns for other (to be made much worse by Sizewell C) traffic problems in east Suffolk. The Saxmunden overdevelopment has led to a call for a big roundabout on the A12 access roads. Despite the dangers, Councillors say this won’t have priority. Then there are the business lobbies for a new bridge over the Orwell inside Ipswich, a northern relief road between the A14 and A12. “No More A14 delays” lobby group says investment would bring £362m extra annual income to the area. A hugely costly 3rd crossing for Lowerstoft is also being pushed. Sizewell C in context looks very different….

Emergency services.
The blue light services resource issue is breaking into public debate alongside continuing pressure from TASC supporters about totally inadequate, uncertain and paper exercise assurances about what would happen with a major incident at Sizewell. Fire brigade cuts and new mini emergency vehicles and shortages of retained firemen and women mean Sizewell ought to boost its own fire services. There is a public consultation ongoing. Police cuts impact too while hospital and ambulance services are already at full stretch. French experience (EDF nuclear plant near Bordeaux) poses another problem: though sea defences had been uprated some time ago, coastal flooding stopped outside emergency services even getting to a fire in the plant. Local coastwatch and border control experts are now starting to campaign about the lack of resources on Suffolk coast to deal with smugglers and the awful possibility of terrorism. Thanks to the extensive report in the ‘Anglian’ (Monday 11th January). The Sizewell dimension of these emergency issues is being pursued through the Sizewell (B) Stakeholder Group, and is becoming a focus for serious TASC examination. SSG co-optee Pete Wilkinson said the SSG is toothless and walked out of the December meeting. Lord Deben, ex Tory Minister, says Britain needs a unified coast protection organisation to cope with flooding from climate change, while PM Cameron is coming under increased political pressure with 10% cuts in flood defence spending (excepting a 2013/4 one-off payment). Hinkley has suffered from what the National Audit Office calls “undelivered” flood defences (Guardian 12.15 Damian Carrington). The emergency debate is centring on total lack of credibility of paper modelling exercises and he need for a real life exercise to test local authorities and ONR(Office of Nuclear Regulation) assurance that everything is OK. This current issue connects to equal and longstanding concerns about overall community protection and evacuation. If Sizewell B becomes Sizewell C & D plus all of the waste stored on site, wouldn’t there be 4 to 5 times the current risk levels ? No-one has ever claimed bigger nuclear is safer: the exact opposite is more like the truth.

Property prices truth emerges
Hidden away on Dec 30th, the ‘Anglian’ did a two page spread on property prices titled “Uncertainties over Sizewell C are a blight on property prices”. Local estate agents, as they would, denied any problem, but amongst the worried is a former MP having problems selling a farmhouse on the B1122 route. And just think, if this is the effect of ‘uncertainty’ blight, what would be the effect of real construction and traffic blight for 10,15 and maybe even 20 years ?

AONB takes Section 106 planning money from EDF for waste store
As the new waste store nears completion, perhaps the strangest story of the season is that the AONB with Sizewell at its heart has taken money off EDF for, well, what ? Section 106 money is supposed to compensate public authorities for developer costs. A small annual grant for a number of years and a six figure sum hopefully will not be enough to buy future silence from the AONB which is supposed to do its basic duty of protecting the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Since the AONB’s detailed management plan for the next few years hardly even mentions EDF at Sizewell, what does one expect ?

EDF pays “independent” Royal Town Planning Institute consultancy to advise towns and villages….
Well, more money slushing around as EDF pays the RTPI’s Planning Aid service to advise on how to make voices heard on the coming Phase 2 consultation. All legal, of course, since developers are supposed to pay all the bills, but it’s a still a funny old world, isn’t it ? (Anglian Dec 28).

Aarhus Convention now to be “fixed’ by Governmen
The international legal convention providing help to the public to challenge government on disputed environmental decisions is to be watered down by the government. The key bit about increasing the costs limit is likely to be challenged. What are they frightened about ?


Bulletin available on- tasizewellc.org.uk


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