The UK chancellor George Osborne has recently made further commitments to support massive new investment in nuclear infrastructure, including the much-criticised Hinkley C power station. Why is the UK determined to press ahead, in the face of much criticism?
SPRU researcher Philip Johnstone and STEPS co-director Andy Stirling have written a new article for The Conversation discussing this latest chapter in the story of British nuclear policy:
“There is now virtually no commentator in the British media, or elsewhere, who seriously considers the Hinkley C project to be a sensible idea. As the most expensive nuclear power station ever built, left and right are united in recognising it as one of the worst infrastructure project decisions in British history. Experts formerly claiming nuclear to be a “necessity” now seem to have realised that other low-carbon pathways are not only possible, but manifestly more attractive…
Attracting Chinese infrastructure investment may play a role, but the realities make it clear there are many more economically promising alternatives than nuclear. And encouraging Chinese involvement in a technology with such grave national security implications further compounds the oddity. George Osborne’s nuclear obsession really does require some kind of explanation.
As we have explored elsewhere, perhaps the best clue lies in Osborne’s trip up the Clyde to Faslane; maybe the real commitment here is to maintaining Britain’s nuclear arsenal.”