Amber Rudd, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, yesterday described the extension of the lifespan of four nuclear power plants as “part of our plan to deliver long-term energy security for our families and businesses”. It is gratifying to learn that there is a plan. Any dispassionate observer might conclude that the vicissitudes surrounding Britain’s revived nuclear programme were evidence more of uncertainty than of design. We had our misgivings over the deal with the French state-owned energy company EDF to build a new plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset underpinned by Chinese investment. These have not diminished with the latest development in this saga. Construction should have been well under way yet the earliest date for the plant to produce any electricity has been put back to 2025; and even that is not set in stone because the funding is not finalised. EDF said “final steps are well in hand to enable the full construction phase to be launched very soon”. But we have heard this before. If the UK is to deliver 16 gigawatts of new nuclear power by 2030 as planned, massive amounts of private investment will be needed.
Telegraph 17th Feb 2016 read more »
The depoliticisation of policymaking is, of course, not confined to the UK. However, a recent UK example is offered by the National Infrastructure Committee (NIC) set up in October last year by HM Treasury. The NIC is independent of government, but ‘works with’ the Treasury. Indeed the NIC is so ‘independent’ that the first CEO has already been informed, by the Chancellor no less, of what the UK’s infrastructure priorities will be: northern connectivity; London transport infrastructure; and energy. What does this mean, however, for government departments, like the newly established Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), usually responsible for research and policymaking in these areas? Or indeed, what does this mean for informed and inclusive political representation in policymaking?
IGov 16th Feb 2016 read more »