Financial control and contract specification problems with a UK/American consortium which is " cleaning up " the UK's first generation Magnox nuclear power stations have led to an apparent decision to bring these massive works back "in-house" to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The £6.2bn outsourced contract showed fundamental failures, and while no decision has yet been made, experts say the most likely outcome is a new subsidiary for the NDA. Truly, if the UK/USA contractors have failed, there is no-one else to do the work. We pay for it all in pay case - its just a case of "value for money" ! (FT 15.10.17).
Parliament's Public Accounts Committee has been told by top civil servants dealing with the negotiations to agree a price for Hinkley C that if the strike price of £92.50 had been pushed lower, the deal would have collapsed. (Bristol News 10.10.17). So it looks like EDF couldn't afford to go lower, and the UK was desperate. Incidentally, the strike price is inflation proofed, and Hinkley costs are based on 2012. We calculate the strike price should now be £103.50, up 10% in 5 years. The total cost, which the European Commission put at £24 billion (old prices too) would now be maybe £26 bn. EDF have admitted the costs have risen, now put variously at £18 and £20bn. The public subsidy cost has been put at £30bn over a lifetime's operation.
Thanks to the Anglian (29.09.17) for the interview with new EDF UK project chief Humphrey Cadoux Hudson. He has confirmed that Sizewell will get the same EPR as Hinkley, while oddly to some observers, the joint effort with China's CGN at Bradwell will get the Chinese Hualong reactor CPR1000, a smaller PWR and based on the older Sizewell B design. EDF and CGN have been cooperating for 30 years. The question arises: if its true that' the Hualong is a " better" reactor, why land Sizewell with the expensive, still not actually working anywhere and obviously very expensive EPR? There are signals in France too: the French state has just become the world's biggest renewable bond issuer in the growing green bond market. €7 billion raised, reports the Financial Times (26.09.17). And France will reduce its nuclear share from 75% to 50%. Not much a market for the EPR there, surely. Only Flammanville waiting to be completed, well above cost and much delayed.
Because, it is understood, the EPR at Flammanville actually needs to be up and running by 2019 to meet a condition of the Mrs May review of Hinkley C, EDF is reported to be going slow on the other big EPR project in Finland were there are time and cost overruns and a financial dispute. That's upset the Finns. Flammanville has apparently been finished as construction, but has to be tested, always a critical time for nuclear plants.
Visiting the Hunterston nuclear power station in West Scotland on his retirement tour, EDF chief Vincent de Rivaz said "walking round this plant I was very moved". "Everything was tidy, spotless, magnificent. It was beautiful". (Telegraph 23.9.17). He hands over to Simone Rossi whose job is complete Hinkley C by 2025.
Six EDF (former Areva) reactors might be built for India, more likely now that Toshiba (Japan/US) has collapsed as a nuclear plant producer and can't supply the original order for six reactors. The start date for EDF has however been delayed from 2017, and a contract still has to be signed. (Reuters 8.10.17)
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, formerly very pro nuclear revival, has called for government to reconsider its commitment to nuclear energy after the record low costs achieved by offshore wind projects. A "radical reappraisal" is needed he stated. Meanwhile Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, asked on television about cancelling Hinkley C if he came to power said he would do so if it hadn't already started. Otherwise Labour remains in favour of a balanced energy policy and diversity of sourcing, but when it is considered that the Blair government started the drive for a third generation nuclear renaissance, the "direction of travel" of Labour is encouraging. This has to be set in context too: apparently opinion polls are showing that 70% of electors support in general Labour's proposal to take energy back into public ownership. Would EDF get its money back ? That would really stir the energy policy pudding !
Good to know the lights won't go out as coal stations close down and coal imports drop off in future years. The transition is being managed by a so-called "capacity market" which has been created by government to give a subsidy for reserve plants to come on stream if a bad winter occurs. Auctioned with hundreds of bidders including EDF in several guises, the auction price comes out at £7 per megawatthour. £7 extra for a few hundred suppliers will cost up to £750m over 5 years apparently. This latest round (Spring 2017) costs £290m. The subsidy is worth 14% extra to operators on average wholesale prices. But the facts of life are that the biggest bidders are gas and coal, not good for CO2 reduction. Incidentally, this scheme started in 2014, when top politicians were still saying the lights would go out and we therefore needed new nuclear, which, of course, is extremely unlikely to happen till the late 2020s.
The recent offshore windfarm strike price auction saw North Sea projects get support: two big ones reached a "tipping point" wholesale price of £57.50, one for Denmark's DONG company at Hornsea and the other for Spain's EDP at Moray. Another big scheme, by Germany's Innogy, off Lincolnshire, was agreed at £74.75. The Government fund allocated £240m, but the auction cost was only £176m. Some £557m is allocated for the next round. The higher price was for earlier completion in 2021/2, the lowest prices for the two other schemes were for completion 2022/3. The total output for these three projects is 3.2 GW, the same as Hinkley C. Meanwhile in Germany some offshore wind farms are being started without a strike price subsidy at all (Guardian11.9.21). Overall offshore wind prices have fallen by a third in 5 years, and 50% measured from 2015 to today - i.e. the price reduction is speeding up and now rivalling gas prices. Offshore prices show no sign of changing direction given that bigger blades and better turbines are being developed for similar costs.
Sweden's state-owned power company, a major force in European energy development, has announced two new offshore wind farms on a scale larger than the biggest known nuclear reactor. Called Vanguard and, for next year, Boreas, they will generate 1.8 Gigawatts each, compared to a single EPR of 1,600. This is approximately 10% of current UK electricity demand. They will be 47 miles off the Norfolk Coast. Who gets the power is anither matter.
Despite the successes of offshore wind power around the UK, Europe's most windy country, and extensive farms in Northern Europe, solar power is the cheap, reliable global solution, especially in association with battery storage systems to the cheapness and abundance of coal. Near Flitwick in Bedfordshire a breakthrough is being made with a massive new solar farm backed by batteries. It will generate 10 Megwatts, enough for 2,500 homes, and will be entirely subsidy free.
While the UK may have ended its coal era, with a bit of open cast and, we think, still just one mine operating, we are still importing vast amounts of coal, and the world is consuming huge amounts too. But solar panel prices have fallen dramatically, to the point where President Trump is being asked to slap a big tariff on imports from China. The USA's solar imports surged 500% in just four years to 2016, alongside the shale oil boom. Germany's politics has got interesting too: nuclear is still being phased out, but Greens in the Merkel coalition want all coal use finished by 2030 and 100% renewables by 2050. Now that's more like an up to date energy policy. But note: the big sea based wind farms and big solar schemes tend to be foreign firm led. Same's true of new nuclear: EDF France, CGN China, Tepco Japan, Kepco Korea etc.
Much vaunting of works proceeding at Hinkley C site, but it could well be that it is just estate roadways and necessary earthworks, plus new cooling water pipes into the sea. This is how the radioactive sludge issue came to light. Tim Deere Jones, who gave a Suffolk FOE talk some time ago, is a consultant expert on the radioactive mud. There's 300,000 tons of it. Deere-Jones has warned that the sediment, one mile off Cardiff, could be re-concentrated by tidal and weather forces with radio active sea spray and aerosols coming on to the land. And interestingly you can't blame Hinkley B. It seems the deposits come from Hinkley A which produced nuclear waste used to make plutonium for UK and American nuclear weapons. The dredging licence, incidentally, goes back 2013. EDF now need the sludge removing so they can get barges into Hinkley Point for the new C power station. There is a petition form on SomeOfUs.org.
A High Court challenge to a Government decision to remove the legal costs caps on environmental cases has been won. It is has restored the UN's Aaarhus Convention requirement that environment issues should be accessible to affordable litigation. Taken by FOE, the RSPB and Client Earth, celebrated for their struggles about air pollution in London, the decision restores a £5000 cost cap for individuals and £10,000 for organisations (subject to means) for taking judicial reviews. Client Earth are going full out on air pollution with a third legal challenge about air pollution measures after the Government responded to their second legal defeat by passing the buck to local authorities, who of course have no money or even the necessary powers for restricting polluting traffic. Meanwhile bad news for the European precautionary principle which the Government's Brexit process leaves out of Schedule 1 of the Withdrawal Bill. It also leaves out the polluter pays principle, so this is another campaign to be supported. The opposition is run by Greener UK, a broad coalition of campaign groups.
A letter to the Anglian (EADT) 16.9.17 from the Co Chairs of TEAGS (Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell C) shows what might be considered a shift in view from TEAGS about the whole Sizewell C project. Congratulating Anglian newspaper's Paul Geater for his questioning of the project, Alison Downs and Paul Collins say there is "a growing chorus questioning whether we should shackle future generations to the huge - and increasingly uncompetitive - costs of nuclear power". The letter refers to the "damning" report on Hinkley C by the National Audit Office as a bad and very idea.
It’s not just Brexit and Brexatom (exit Euratom) or even the failure to mention any energy issues other than the deliberately vague consumer price caps for electricity and gas in the Queen’s Speech. Maybe energy fundamentals are moving too fast and furious all over the world, against the direction of UK energy policy, making the UK, in reality, more a policy-taker not a policy maker.
The continuing contortions of EDF remain central. Their Paris chief Vincent de Rivas is to step down, after promising Parliament and the House of Lords that they would be ready to”pour concrete” at Hinkley C in 2019. Clear enough until this month CEO JB Levy has declared that they are already pouring concrete in 2017 for infrastructure, while also admitting that Hinkley C will now be a bit longer in build than previously stated and, yes, nearly a couple of billion pounds more in cost.
The start-up “leap backwards” may have something to do with UK conditions in the contract: that Flammanville operates by 2019, and that Hinkley C operates by 2033, this latter date distant but not incredible. EDF’s woes include, acutely, a bizarre short-life fix for Flammanville (see below).
Meanwhile the Audit Commission has blasted the Hinkley deal (see below), Toshiba as the main developer of the Sellafield Moorside new nuclear project has withdrawn from all nuclear involvement, and government infrastructure plans are silent about big nuclear.
Can S Korea’s KEPCO now do this failed job? And what is happening at Wylfa, Anglesey: all quiet and a furious search for outside investors seems to be the scene. Meanwhile, China’s CGN is presumed to be proceding with its Bradwell project for its own reactors.
The environmental issues about new nuclear are also emerging as a key safety and suitability issue, because of Brexit.
New cabinet member for the environment, Mr Gove, wants a “bonfire” of EU regulations, while Mrs may has promised simply to transpose EU environment laws ( including nuclear) into UK law until there is time to revise them later. Few commentators believe this, it has to be said. Notably, the Environmental Law Association has called, like the Green Party, for a new strong UK environmental commission to be established.
Why out of Euratom?
Professional opinion and comment seems to recognise how serious this decision has become. It seems more set in stone than even the big customs union and single market issues. The essential Brexatom question is why on earth might government think there can be any benefit from it? It will impede nuclear fuel trade, and won’t avoid “red tape” because the UK is still under the International Atomic Energy Authority’s rules. It will most likely mean Europe won’t buy UK nuclear electricity even if we ever happen to have a surplus. But there is a back story, as so often.
About three years ago, when money from China for EDF’s Hinkley C and Sizewell C projects became necessary, the UK’s Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) was repositioned as an independent UK Government “agency”, removing it from the genuinely independent and powerful UK Heath & Safety Commission. New ONR terms of reference required its safety duties to be aligned with market sensitivity, i.e. not “safety at any cost”.
This shocking move may have upset Euratom, but there is no public sign that the UK is being pushed out of Euratom. European nuclear standards may not be sufficient, if even the highest standards could ever be acceptable for inherently dangerous nuclear power. But they are higher than elsewhere globally, and Europe was the main mover and shaker about new safeguards after the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters.
Germany has rejected nuclear power, and even France is phasing down. Europe has also raised its safety monitoring rules requiring, in a 2013 Directive, peer group review of European countries’ rules and reports and inspections. The UK seems to have done nothing about transposing this directive.
All of this may help explain Brexatom, and is “fit for purpose” because the UK’s new nuclear project is now overwhelmingly in non-European global hands.
After Brexit, even France will be simply be a global investor, free of European rules for its UK operations, if not in France. It is not just China’s nuclear companies who have wanted to grab a slice of the UK nuclear new-build market.
South Korea’s KEPCO are in the frame now at Sellafield for their own reactors, and if EDF’s EPR doesn’t deliver, the UK government might want to go all speed ahead with KEPCO elsewhere. They have already OK’d China CGN’s own reactor for Bradwell.
Out of the EU (and Euratom) the UK Government would be free to subsidize new nuclear, rush through regulatory design approvals, backed by a newly constrained and toothless ONR. So is Brexatom such a surprise after all?
Audit Commission (Parliamentary Watchdog) Second Nuclear Report on Hinkley C says it is “expensive” to taxpayers and consumers and a “risky” project in any case.
The key media word for this report, used by the local Anglian/EADT paper too, was “slammed”. Odd for normal government supporters, but the fact is that the dreadful popular (right-wing) newspapers don’t seem nuclear-friendly at present. Maybe it’s just that EDF is, after all, French and European.
EDF in Suffolk rushed to say that Sizewell C would be cheaper than Hinkley C, hardly reassuring if safety corners are to be cut, or the workforce sweated, or poor quality concrete poured.... Maybe it is a tacit admission that only Hinkley C would ever be subsidised. Or maybe it is more subtle, implying that the cost of a Sizewell subsidy could be lower.
The fact is that the Audit Commission has definitely “slammed” the Hinkley C project, in its second report on new UK nuclear power plans (presented to Parliament June 2017, following the first report in July 2016).
The report bears examination, not least for charting the whole sorry Hinkley C saga, which started in 2006/7. It is an excellent factual guide. Facts revealed are: if it were ever to operate for a full life, EDF believe it would produce a total net profit by 2085 of £80bn. Most of this would come through the heavily subsidised “strike price” at twice the current expected long-term wholesale electricity price. That’s a very big subsidy, but it is still not enough to fully pay for decommissioning and nuclear waste storage etc.
EDF’s immediate response from Paris was to admit that the Hinkley C project’s costs and timetable were subject to a “full review” (Times 27 July). It emerged this means two more years late, that is, 2027 not 2025 to be up and running, which no-one really believes. And then the delays will cost an estimated extra £2.7bn on top of the current £18bn estimate...
Recent policy shifts across the world include a total phase-out of nuclear power by Switzerland, resulting from a referendum; France’s new President confirming the nuclear transition down to 50% of the market, and appointing an anti-nuclear Environment Minister, M Hulot; South Korea having two presidential candidates, both anti-nuclear, the winner announcing a complete phase-out, putting its nuclear operator KEPCO in a tight spot, including in talks with the UK.
KEPCO have offered to step into the UK Nugen Moorside (Sellafield) crisis caused by profound financial problems at leading developer Toshiba. KEPCO insist that their own reactor is used, not Toshiba’s Westinghouse model. It seems KEPCO have lost their home market, with projects remaining only in a Gulf state and possibly India.
Japan’s Toshiba crisis, caused by the collapse of its nuclear business in the USA, occurs alongside continued shutdown for most of the country’s nuclear reactors. Despite government support, local opposition and court cases have blocked all but five reactors being restarted. No wonder Toshiba has said it is done with nuclear business: it too has also lost its home market.
The Green Party’s election time meeting in Woodbridge, on Sizewell C, was well attended, and finally got in the Anglian newspaper, but only after the election (!). The headine however got the message: “Nuclear industry is facing a slow death”...
The platform was: Eamon O’Nolan, Suffolk Coastal Greens, Baroness Jenny Jones, national Green Party, environmentalist Tim Nunn, Professor Andy Blowers, local Professor John Midwinter and Regan Scott, SAGE, TASC, FOE. Thanks to supporting groups.
TEAGS’ very well attended election husting on Sizewell C was a quiet affair without local MP Theresa Coffey actually turning up. She cited the second election period terror incident. A distinct note was struck by an audience member, a paramedic, describing how totally run-down and inadequate emergency services are for the existing nuclear facilities.
Meanwhile local councillors are believed to be rushing round to find new dispersed sites for the workers’ camps, while the Anglian reports that the four villages bypass campaign’s Lord Marlesford (former Tory Party grandee) has stated that EDF have found new funding for what is now called the Energy Gateway. The Anglian reports that he was told EDF “would contribute equivalent funding for the two villages bypass towards the new scheme”, whatever that means.
Three recent very substantial reports bring additional insight to the Audit Commission report.
First, the House of Lords European Union Sub-Commitee on Energy & the Environment report on “Brexit, Environment and Climate Change”. This ranges widey, and included a very interesting and substantial contribution from the Aldersgate Group. They specify a joined-up, green-financed and comprehensive energy policy stance by Government, driving the existing committment to a fifth UK carbon budget. (H of L Sitting Feb.2017). The Aldersgate Group is a business and NGO forum, including FOE and the TUC amongst its members.
Second, a Chatham House (foreign affairs think tank) report “Staying Connected”, by Friggart, Wright & Lockwood, May 2017 on “UK energy policy after Brexit”. One clear message: the UK will need a carbon market of its own if its climate change targets are to be within sight at all. This would affect the whole energy policy and energy price infrastructure.
Third, from the USA’s Boston Consulting Group, international lawyers Herbert Smith Freehills and the Global Counsel Group, a report called “Strong Currents - Navigating the Post Brexit Energy Market”. Very graphic pictures of the challenges, confirms the carbon market issue and prospects for a carbon tax, explains the exact policy stances of the EU and UK so far, heavy on new electricity interconnectors between the UK and Europe but only on condition of UK not undermining the EU’s energy and environment rules. We hear that Europe is most interested in an interconnector bypassing the UK and direct to Ireland.
All three see the very serious problems of leaving Euratom, the third report stating absolutely clearly that the UK has chosen freely to exit Euratom.
While the Austrian case against the Hinkley C subsidies remains at the European Court of Justice - until Brexit actually happens in 2019 - Greenpeace France have launched a complaint to the European Commission about French government support for EDF.
The Commission has cleared restructuring and takeover by EDF of the collapsed Areva, the French nuclear engineering company at the heart of so much trouble, and also raised no problems about EDF being, in effect, refinanced by the French Government.
The Greenpeace case is that the Hinkley C project threatens EDF’s wider future as an energy company. Greenpeace France are also challenging the “solution” being proposed by EDF and experts for Flammanville’s faulty reactor vessel lid. This has been fixed in place, may have the faulty carbon level in its steel, and cannot be inspected because the concrete cap has been put on already. The compromise solution, amazingly, is to let it operate for a short period - five years? - and then revisit the issue! Mind-boggling?
Meanwhile, a new legal challenge has been posted by Greenpeace Germany arguing that the Hinkley C decision did not respect the duty of the UK government under the Aaarhus Convention to consult other nations about its plans.
Watch US electric car and car battery pioneer TESLA. They’ve undertaken to build the world’s biggest ever elecricity storage battery (3 times the biggest known) to support the grid in South Australia after energy chaos there for some time. Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he can do it in 100 days, and if not, it’s free.
And smartest meters? All those electric cars coming very fast, and some people saying therefore we need extra grid capacity.....well, of the three types of charging meters now existing, the smartest (V2G = vehicle to grid) uses the car battery when off road to by cheap electricity and sell it back into the grid at a profit.....and the original supply can come from domestic solar/local cheap wind turbine supplies. Renault reckons with I million of its new small Zoe electric car on the road - or, sorry, off the road, using V2G, the equivalent of one French nuclear power station could be closed down. After all, we only actually use our cars on the road a few hours a day out of 24.
China's hydro plus solar...
on the Longyanxia Dam, already producing hydro electrcity, a new solar park with 4 million solar panels on 10 square miles of land will produce enough electricity to save China building one nuclear power station.
Denmark’s DONG company starts up in Irish sea and even bigger ones due
The world’s biggest and most powerful wind turbines started generating power last month off the coast of Liverpool. DONG Energysays they are taller than London’s gherkin (195 metres), and 32 of them can produce 5.3 GW, enough to power 4.3 million homes. If our arithmetic is correct, this is a lot more than Hinkley C - or Sizewell C &D- both with two EPR reactors. The next project for DONG is for even bigger turbines.
Odd and contradictory signals are coming through about EDF’s future, from France, from Sizewell and from putting current UK nuclear news items together, as we will do every few weeks.
So first of all, a SAGE associate reports hearing from someone living in the Sizewell community that some EDF insiders think the project is stalled – and that it would be much cheaper and easier and quicker to put an under-sea cable across from France to Sizewell to sell excess French electricity in Britain.
It may be more than just a casual rumour: London journalists covering Brexit and energy price hikes – see below – are also picking up policy chat about new under-sea cables (interconnectors) for life after Brexit.
In France, something odd has been happening to the current Government’s national plan to reduce French nuclear electricity (all EDF) from 70% plus to 50% of national capacity. The very old Fessenheim plant with several reactors on the Rhine river and German border was the first due to close. But now, EDF seem to have bullied their government into agreeing that if the new EPR at Flamanville is not finished on time (2019), Fessenheim can stay open.
Then, there will soon be a new French President and then government, so the old nuclear reduction programme is likely to be revisited, and Emmanuel Macron is believed to be less automatically pro EDF’s UK plans than the outgoing President Hollande.
What is also interesting is that France already has too much nuclear electricity and will want to export it. It already sends some to Germamy, of course. So why not also build new cables and sell it to the UK, especially if UK electricity is under price pressures from the public and politicians?
France’s other big old nuclear site, with many reactors, at Gravelines, on the northern coast near Dunkerque ,would be able to do that, and maybe Fessenheim would then need to be kept open to feed northern France.
Flamanville, the new unfinished and troubled EPR project is down in Normandy. Maybe it won’t be finished on time in any case... And, just a reminder, there is spare grid capacity at Sizewell after the closure of Sizewell A, although the wind farms at sea will apparently use some of it until they establish their own cabling.
Since interconnectors can be laid under the sea in about three years, and don’t cost £billions, maybe it’s not just idle talk.
But opponents of Sizewell C should not relax: the obvious shift of mood against the project evident at Stage 2 consultation and EDF funding problems at Hinkley are surely material factors in EDF’s thinking.
Now Hinkley is going to cost £2.7 billion more...
Hinkley itself is being re-jiggged too, as EDF have announced “setting aside £2.7 billon extra” for it. This coincides with a big publicity splurge about contractors working away already, to use EDF boss Vincent de Rivas’ phrase, and actually “pouring concrete”. And a Hinkley administration centre being opened with 700 jobs promised. And both of these before the final business decision has been made.
It’s an odd story, because De Rivas told Parliament and presumably Mrs May that this would happen after the FID (Final Investment Decision) some time in 2019.
The original cost was never very clear, but started to get public attention at about £14bn, then went to £16bn, then Europe said it was really about £24.5bn, and now EDF say it will be £18bn plus the new extra £2.7bn, making almost £21bn. Not a great basis for investor confidence, even if its nuclear partner in China contributes an extra £900m.
The FID is now apparently expected earlier, under pressure from the French government according to the Guardian (23.4.17), and could be September this year. That’s two years early, for whatever reason, but at the same time EDF have said the project may be delayed and only completed in 2026, a year late.
They now say it will take 9 years, 7 months to build. That has to be taken with some caution: the Finnish EPR and the Flamanville EPR are about twice that time already and not finished, and the EPRs in China have apparently got problems too. Whatever these problems are, the Chinese company wants to build its own reactors, not the EPR, in the UK at Bradwell.
What about energy prices? Will they be capped and why does EDF need two electricity price rises?
UK energy prices are becoming one of those public issues that won’t go away. EDF are at the heart of it, the only company of the “big six” to have announced two prices rises for standard tariff customers in just four months. The Daily Mail, normally utterly Tory rightist campaigners, was outraged. Mrs May, they thundered on page 1, was going to introduce a price cap against “rip-off” energy prices. These were on March 1st, 1.2%, then only weeks later, 7.2% overall for gas and electricity but reading closely what we find is even more interesting: their electricity price rises are 8.4% for March 2017 and then another 9% in June.
That means their overwhelmingly nuclear elecricity generation busines is in dire trouble. We make the total hike 17.5%!
This is desperate stuff: it is bang up to date, while the Paris EDF financial results and the UK aspect of them were already showing big profit falls last year. For 2016, French nuclear electricity production fell as 18 plants went offline for safety checks, while energy prices generally fell and EDF started to face French price competition for the first time.
In the UK, operating profit was down almost 30%, to £470m before adjustments, on 2015’s already much lower level. But note: this was 2016. The big price hikes are this year. They suggest a different story.
Note also that the Financial Times in February revealed that EDF benefited from “the positive effect” of their accounting depreciation period for their nuclear plants being extended to 50 years. Who agreed that?
We now await the Tory Party manifesto to see if the Daily Mail’s outrage is followed through.
Europe’s 2014 ban on seed treatment chemical neonicotinoid – a pesticide to ordinary folk – is now being challenged by big chemical companies at the European (EU) Court of Justice in Luxembourg. It’s used on a lot of rape seed fields, of which Suffolk has many.
The case could be affected in UK terms by Brexit, of course, a fear because the UK National Farmers Union are supporting the challenge by Bayer and Syngenta. Yet another post-Brexit campaign for green issues? (Private Eye 3.17)
Have estate agents taken to advertising nuclear Sizewell’s desirable properties?
It can’t be deliberate, surely, but the March edition of the Woodbridge Flyer advertising mag has a Sizewell beach view for its whole front page, and three estate agents’ “ads” underneath. Are we missing something, or is it them?
First inside story is “MP’s Update” by Therese Coffey. We’ve been wondering whether to start a new regular column “At the Coffey Bar”, which will also include Dr Poulter MP when he touches matters of concern, and also of course Mr Gummer MP. He’s writing the Tory election manifesto, so he will know a thing or two about whether there is still an energy policy etc. Subject to the general election results, of course.
Hard to keep up with climate change, energy policy and environment & nature issues, especially as they achieve ‘serious’ status in at least some political quarters. So good reports and key books are very important to behind the media “bites” which seem to pile up but not go anywhere – “no real direction of travel” as politicians like to say. Here are a few recent ones which we’ve found valuable.
A welcome contrast with Suffolk brewer Adnams who seem to be supportive of the EDF Sizwell nuclear project with lots of extra beer sales in view, Wentworth Hotel owner Michael Pritt of Aldeburgh has stepped out and announced that "Sizewell will harm Suffolk's tourism".
The Anglian paper carried the strap "Concerns have been raised that the construction of Sizewell C could put off huge numbers of tourists from visiting Suffolk".
The hotel owner is quoted as saying Sizewell (C) could "destroy this part of Suffolk as we know it. The sheer scale of destruction is truly unimaginable", and crucially, for the fence-sitters and the apologists and wait-and-see folk, he added "and by the time you see it happening it will be too late to do anything to save it".
"Jobs connected to tourism far outweigh those provided by Sizewell and many (tourism) jobs will be in jeopardy". On the overall tourism market, he asked why would tourists ever return to Suffolk afterwards?
About time a few other tourism voices spoke out too.
Looking through SAGE files we found a useful reminder of the ramifications of tourism. It concerned the boost the BBC Springwatch programmes gave to Minsmere and Coastal Suffolk's nature assets. "Phenomenal " was the word used to describe the publicity impact from Springwatch.
Visit Suffolk manager Amanda Bond said Springwatch had been "profoundly beneficial". It seems that many more people are now recognising that Sizewell's nature impact will be very damaging for a very, very long time.