Sir, My experience of the construction and operation of Hunterston and Torness nuclear stations suggests that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) should now grasp the Hinkley nettle, no matter how embarrassing, as matters can only get worse. The contractors’ dismal performance (ten years late in Finland and five years late in Flamanville) together with severe financial problems should have debarred them from this contract.
Hunterston and Torness produced electricity at lower costs than the 2400MW Longannet station burning Scottish coal, even after financing costs and full provision for decommissioning and waste disposal, and without carbon taxes. Hinkley would be some three times that and would establish an unacceptable base price for other new-build nuclear.
Furthermore, the UK economy can support only one or at most two designs of plant so that the proliferation of designs being toted by DECC repeats the mistakes of our early nuclear programme from which it took decades to recover. For all these reasons Hinkley should now be cancelled or at least put on hold and reviewed in the light of the performance of EDF and Areva on their existing projects. That review should be conducted by some new body charged with establishing a reliable and economic electricity system and staffed accordingly. DECC should then revert to its proper role of establishing broad policy.
Sir Donald Miller
Former chairman, Scottish Power