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Moorside nuclear power plant – another massive drain on taxpayers’ money 

Tax - payersNuclear plundering of the public purse – the Sellafield and Moorside billions, Ecologist, Martin Forwood 13th December 2016 

“………Largely under-reported by the media, Moorside’s developer NuGen told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in early November that it had been calculating how elements of its proposed triple AP1000 reactor site might be carved up to allow the non-nuclear elements of the project to be paid for by the UK Government.

For despite casting its net far and wide in an attempt to drum up the additional finance to meet the clearly under-Moorside NuGen plan Cumbriaestimated £15 billion cost of building Moorside, the consortium of Japan’s Toshiba and France’s Engie is clearly struggling to attract support.

The struggle was intensified by the not unexpected news on 8th December that Engie itself has declared that it will pull out of the Moorside and other new-build developments because “it no longer has the resources to finance such expensive projects” and wants to concentrate on renewables instead.

Hoping that the Treasury’s taxpayer cavalry will ride to the rescue, NuGen’s CEO Tom Samson told the House of Lords that one non-nuclear element of the project has been identified by the consortium as the seawater system required to cool Moorside’s reactors.

Exactly how this vital component of reactor operation can be classified by NuGen as a non-nuclear element and thereby qualify for taxpayer support is as incomprehensible as is the further suggestion that major ‘civil works’ such as the removal of excavation spoil, could also qualify for Government largesse.

It’s a telling sign of NuGen’s dire financial straits, and one that will leave tax-paying observers wondering exactly which part it is of the Government’s erstwhile promise – that future developers would shoulder the whole cost of new-build in the UK – that NuGen doesn’t understand or seeks to circumvent in its hour of self-inflicted need.

And now – taxpayer-funded transport infrastructure and powerlines

Then there’s the suggestion of Government assistance in improving the transport infrastructure in the Cumbrian area to help support both the decommissioning operations at Sellafield and the proposed construction site at Moorside.

Leaving aside NuGen’s less than subtle ploy to boost its case for infrastructure improvements by lumping together Moorside and Sellafield decommissioning, local communities will nevertheless know to their frustration that pleas to improve West Cumbria’s chronic road and rail infrastructure have fallen on deaf Government and industry ears for decades.

Even the construction of the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) in the 1980’s and 90’s – a project of similar workforce size to that forecast for Moorside and with similar demands on the local infrastructure – saw no improvements whatsoever made to the outdated transport system.

With Sellafield’s commercial reprocessing operations in their death throes and the site in clean-up mode, it would be morally indefensible for the taxpayer to be expected to step in now to bank roll a Japanese / French private consortium that has clearly bitten off more than it can chew and finds itself short of funding for a project whose timetable and sums increasingly fail to add up.

The very notion that the Treasury should ride to the rescue of NuGen’s vested interest in a new-build project that has considerably less than full public support will be anathema to taxpayers, particularly as they witness hospital and community services in West Cumbria – whose survival is in everyone’s interest – being increasingly starved of Government support.

A thought must be spared too for those facing the double whammy of increased electricity bills as a result of the estimated £2.5 billion cost of connecting Moorside to an upgraded North West Coast grid system – a contentious and hugely disruptive and visually damaging upgrade that National Grid has confirmed again recently would not be necessary if the Moorside project was not on the table.

The government must pull back from this boondoggle project

Time will tell whether the historically apron-stringed – some would say incestuous – relationship between Government and UK Nuclear will come up trumps for NuGen.

But if it doesn’t there will be no public sympathy for a consortium that has walked open-eyed into a remote green field site well documented as being ‘less than optimum’ for new-build in construction, infrastructure and transmission terms.

Nugen has made its bed and should now lie in it or, as the other saying suggests, get out of the Cumbrian kitchen if it can’t stand the financial heat.

 


 

Martin Forwood is the Campaign Coordinator of CORE, Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment.

This article was originally published on the CORE websitehttp://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988449/nuclear_plundering_of_the_public_purse_the_sellafield_and_moorside_billions.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=

December 19, 2016 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK

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