Funding for the nuclear plant was approved by EDF on Thursday evening
Labour has accused the government of sending the message that Britain can’t be trusted with large infrastructure projects, following the government’s announcement to delay a final decision on the nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point.
‘Ministers have claimed Britain is open for business after the referendum, but this delay could deter the investors we need to build a strong economy,’ commented shadow energy secretary Barry Gardiner. ‘This is an appalling signal to send and a humiliating diplomatic move.’
Trade unions have also responded furiously to the government’s decision, which was announced shortly after the EDF board approved funding for the £18bn project.
GMB national secretary for energy Justin Bowden described Theresa May’s decision as ‘bewildering and bonkers’, commenting:
“After years of procrastination, what is required is decisive action not dithering and more delay. This unnecessary hesitation is putting finance for the project in doubt and 25,000 new jobs at risk immediately after Brexit. It is a gross error of judgement and must be reversed.”
Frances O’ Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said that post-Brexit the economy ‘needs certainty, not vacillation’ and accused the government of endangering jobs and sending bad signals to investors.
Unite described the situation as ‘the first big litmus test following last month’s EU referendum’ and called on the government to ‘give the final go-ahead and show that it has the appetite for the big infrasructure projects that the UK so desperately needs.’
While EDF has insisted that it’s confident the deal will go ahead, opponents of the scheme are attempting to pile pressure on the prime minister to kill the project altogether.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace says that ‘Theresa May now has a chance to stop this radioactive white elephant in its tracks’, while Friends of the Earth said that the government’s brake presents ‘an opportunity to do the right and popular thing and end support for Hinkley.’
Whatever her decision, May will face intense criticism from one side or the other.
However, indecision may be the worst option of all, giving the impression of a frightened new government caught in the headlights.
See also: Silence on Hinkley speaks volumesLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.