Less than a third of UK public support Osborne’s nuclear power deal

The deal for a new power plant at Hinkley could be finalised this week


Tonight the Chinese President Xi Jinping will land in the UK for his first state visit, with David Cameron hailing this as a ‘golden era‘ in British-Chinese relations. Among the items on the agenda over the next four days will be Chinese investment into a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The £24.5bn power station project, the first new UK nuclear reactor in a generation, is expected to attract investment from China’s CGN and CNNC, which will take a minority stake in Hinkley Point C (to join Points A and B). French energy giant EDF will take the lead stake

To coincide with President Xi’s visit, Greenpeace have published the results of a poll they commissioned to research public opinion on the new power plant. The survey shows that less than a third of UK people back the new nuclear reactor.

Just 29 per cent of those surveyed (more than 2,000 adults) said they support plans for a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point, against 34 per cent who said they oppose it.

Furthermore, nearly three times more respondents said Osborne’s backing for the project worsened their opinion of him as a potential political leader than those who said it would improve it.

Greenpeace say the findings will come as an embarrassment for the government as EDF and their Chinese partners use this week’s visit to push forward the plans.

Hinkley has faced deep criticism since it was first announced in October 2013. It has been described as the ‘most expensive object ever built in Britain’, ‘one of the worst deals ever’ for British consumers, and a ‘bottomless pit and a big white elephant’.

In a damning report published this summer, experts at banking giant HSBC wrote that they saw ‘ample reason for the UK government to delay or cancel the project’, pointing to major technical setbacks and sky-high costs.

Under the deal, the UK government has committed to paying Hinkley’s owners twice the current market price of electricity for the next 35 years. The gap will being plugged by consumer-funded subsidies.

Around the time of the HSBC report, Energy secretary Amber Rudd defended government plans to withdraw subsidies from green, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, saying (£) ‘I feel we can deliver on low-carbon electricity through less subsidy.’

Many campaigners pointed out that this was at odds with the plans for Hinkley.

Commenting on today’s publication, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said:

“No wonder the Hinkley project enjoys little public support. Consumers are hearing from ministers that keeping bills down is their top priority. Yet George Osborne is about to plough billions into the bottomless pit of ever more expensive nuclear power whilst pulling the plug on clean energy sources that are getting cheaper every year.

“He’s putting British clean tech firms out of business whilst lavishing billions on a foreign state-owned nuclear industry. None of this makes any economic, political, or business sense. There are no reasons left for going through with Hinkley but the chancellor’s own pride.”

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

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14 Responses to “Less than a third of UK public support Osborne’s nuclear power deal”

  1. Michaelinlondon1234

    Have you read about the “year with out sun”. in 1812
    It was a mini ice age caused by volcanic ash covering the skies of the northern hemisphere.
    Secondly if you go to the Green peace site and read their research.
    None of it models an exceptionally prolonged cold period.
    They advocate reduction of building heating by 50% to achieve their self sufficiency goals….
    Are we planting the forests to supply wood pellet ….No.
    We had coal fired plants that had, had there emissions cleaned up….
    I am not a fan of nuclear but we need it for energy security.

  2. Mike Stallard

    “Greenpeace have published the results of a poll they commissioned to research public opinion on the new power plant.”
    You bet it did!
    Why are we going nuclear, please, when both coal and oil are at rock bottom prices?
    Why did Redcar shut leaving a LOT of workers facing a life on the dole?
    Why are the rest of the steel industry facing closure please?
    Aluminium anyone?
    Do you care about these wretched working men who have been totally ruined? Have I heard one whisper of annoyance about it from the Worker’s Party? No.

    Hint: Electricity is produced cheapest and best by either coal or oil – oh, whoops, we have only what was it? five minutes to save the world from frying? Global Warming? Our Carbon Emissions being cut back to allow for wind and solar power to give free energy?

    Thank you very much Greenpeace, Mr Miliband and Mr Cameron and Mr Brown for rubber stamping that one. I do not think, however, that anyone else, including the French and Germans, was listening at the time though. Their electricity prices, thanks to all those new coal fired power stations, are a lot lower. You know it makes sense!

  3. Mike Stallard

    And how about a few nice, efficient, reliable, coal and oil fired stations too?

  4. Michaelinlondon1234

    I have a small share holding in photovoltaic oil and energy…I am declaring my interests.
    verses conversation.
    I like the thought of energy efficient buildings and argued both for triple gazing, increased insulation and air to air heat exchangers…Humans give off a lot of heat and carbon dioxide. considering we were building single glazed low insulated buildings up until 2000. There is a cost issue regarding upgrading or replacement.
    What I would like to see is the power lost by closing down coal replaced before we start canning any thing else. Keeping in mind we also closed down a lot of Nuclear.
    Have you looked at Greenpeace research?.
    So you tell me how well we would survive a mini ice age with our current levels of power generation if we were berried under 6 feet of snow for 6 months.

  5. johnm55

    Look Anthropogenic Climate Change is a thing. We need to find ways of producing electricity without increasing the amount of CO2 we pump out into the atmosphere.
    Redcar is closing because of the Chinese dumping steel at probably less than production price . We need to find ways of preventing that. Chinese steel is of shall we say variable quality. Petrochemical companies having pressure equipment made frequently insert a clause into the contract that states all materials must be of EU origin. That could be a way forward, or at least insert a similar clause into the contract to build Bradwell.


    Polls are fickle but if we want the lights on and the kettle boiling then we need a mix. The old industries have killed tens of thousands with disease and so on. The nuclear industry is the future. The clever people will eventually get the equation right to safely disolve the waste.

  7. .

    Onshore wind is now the cheapest energy source in the UK even without subsidies. When considering the financial cost of cleaning up after fossil fuel sources, the gap is about 5 times greater still. Nuclear is one of the most expensive sources available, Hinkley won’t be finished for 20 years by which time it’ll be too late, we’ll be committed to paying double the rate of energy that could have gone to homegrown UK renewable generation, and all the reactors currently being built with the same plans have been wildly over budget even on their high estimates. And ‘dissolving’ the waste? What??

    Instead, how about investing in the cheapest, most popular sources that create the most jobs, can be installed quickest, are less damaging to health, more open to community ownership and don’t create waste which will be a problem for hundreds of thousands of years? (Ie. solar, wind and wave)

  8. .

    Can’t do that due to modern trade deals unfortunately – businesses and councils etc. are prevented from choosing to use only local or national products or services. Part of our wonderful new raft of free trade deals which look set to add one more – TTIP – to the destruction of local industry.

  9. .

    False. Onshore wind is now by far the cheapest energy source in the UK even without
    subsidies – it was widely publicised a few weeks ago, I’m surprised you missed it. Here’s a link – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/07/onshore-wind-farms-cheapest-form-of-uk-electricity-report-shows – I imagine you’ll have a problem with the source, so consider that it links to the Bloomberg report and also that such noted leftists as HSBC, the IFS and the FT are saying we should be cutting FF and nuclear and focusing on renewables, for the economy as much as anything else. When considering the financial cost of cleaning up after
    fossil fuel sources, the gap is about 5 times greater still. I’m not sure what you think is happening in France and Germany but they’re not building new coal plants, they’re shutting them down and building new renewables (although France are still reliant mostly on nuclear and Germany have been slow to shut down the worst offenders unfortunately).

    Instead, how about
    investing in the cheapest, most popular sources that create the most
    jobs – particularly for those in skilled industries like steel-working, can be installed quickest, are less damaging to health, more open
    to community ownership and don’t create waste which will be a problem
    for hundreds of thousands of years?

  10. Mike Stallard

    I am actually rather angry about this. Quite apart from anything else the 200,000 men working in the steel industry face the dole and nobody – nobody seems to give a damn. Mr oh so caring Corbyn says – nowt. This unnecessary closure and slow down is due to energy costs. And energy costs are driven up by the idiotic global warming scam which was so warmly supported by Mr Miliband (Lab) Mr Cameron (Cons) Mr Brown (Lab) and Greenpeace and the Eurocrats in Brussels.
    Mrs Thatcher had to close out of date industry – the mines. These goons do not have to close anything.

  11. Michaelinlondon1234

    I think you have added a zero to your figure. But if you were to add the surrounding economic effect then you are probably underestimating the numbers at risk.
    Having looked at the energy sector…It is a complicated mix. I really have not done enough reading on it to comment.
    Cameron and co seem more interested in slaughtering there way in to Iraq and Syria and destroying the place than Spending the time learning about UK industry and addressing its issues. A lot of UK industries depend on good quality steel in its various forms..

  12. Paxus Calta

    For a myriad of reasons, including British rate payers having to guarantee funding for the Hinkley C project even if it collapses, deceptive practices on the part of EdF, committing the UK to build an all Chinese reactor in the UK, crushing the UK renewables market and terrible pricing of electricity, this may well be the worst deal ever.


  13. steroflex

    I am really sorry about the zero – you are quite right! The steel industry shrank to 30,000 and, with the current mess has gone down even further.
    And,apart from Angela Eagle, nobody seems to care.

  14. Harold

    Today a Mega Watt of electricity on the open market trades at about £40, EDF have been guaranteed a price of £92/Mw. Who pays this? The consumer. Nuclear is expensive and unreliable at any one time over the last twenty years at least two of the UK reactors have been shut down, sometimes many more. Some of the UK plants have been shut for a year at a time. The old Magnox stations are costing billions to decommission and will take up to another 100 years to clear. Reports os staff sleeping on duty not following procedures inadequate staffing and covering up are rife at many of the stations. The massive subsidy given to EDF could be better spent on insulation, new boilers and economical products in the home, even contributing to solar for homes which wanted it. What ever route we take nuclear is not the answer.

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