The great British cock-up: ten times the state got it catastrophically wrong. Tony Benn, that great champion of socialist state planning, was, as ‘Minister of Technology’, instrumental in saving Concorde from cancellation in late 60s.6 Fittingly, he also played a pivotal role in another ill-fated venture – the Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor or AGR. The supposedly superior design was meant be a sure-fire winner for British industry. In practice, the AGRs were plagued by construction delays and operational problems. Many of the problems continue to this day and we still have the decommissioning costs to look forward to – which were, of course, significantly underestimated. With an unerring failure to learn from past mistakes, the current UK Government is now committed to Hinkley Point C – the fabulously expensive new nuclear power station due to be built next to Hinkley Point B, the first of the AGRs. HPC is of a different and more recent design – but one that already has a track record of construction delays and cost overruns. Undaunted, the Government has signed us up to the project – only this time we’ll be blowing billions to the benefit of French-owned industries instead of British ones. Brilliant!
Unherd 22nd June 2018 read more »