Tata has accused David Cameron of sleepwalking into the steel crisis by helping China to block EU efforts to increase tariffs on its cheap imports. An executive from the Indian group told a Commons committee weeks ago that British support for China could lead to an “even greater steel crisis”, according to a transcript. Senior Tata officials are said to be amazed at the prime minister’s failure to heed their warnings that China would dump cheap steel on the market, undercutting Britain. EU officials are also privately critical of Britain over its reluctance to raise tariffs for China, which it has been wooing to try to generate better trade links. Britain did not seek EU permission to give steelmakers exemptions from green taxes on power consumption in earnest until December, long after German steelmakers had secured the breaks. The government instead put priority on subsidies for the Chinese-backed Hinkley Point nuclear project. “For over three years, Britain was more concerned about getting subsidies for Hinkley Point past Brussels,” an industry source said. “That changed late in 2015 but the damage was done.”
Times 1st April 2016 read more »
David Lowry: Stephen Kinnock MP is quoted as suggesting the government is “rolling out the red carpet to get market status at the World Trade Organisation” and suggested Britain is the “ringleader” in blocking European commission attempts to improve anti-dumping policies (on Chinese steel) because our commercial and overall policy is being “dictated by Beijing”. Our steel is being sacrificed on the atomic altar of keeping China sweet over its investment in the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, confidence in which is eroding even in France. British engagement with China over nuclear power dates back to the autumn of 2013, when chancellor George Osborne visited Beijing to seek investment in the Hinkley C project from the Chinese government and was finalised last September. The trade unionists now rightly defending their jobs and the steel industry should have words with the leadership of the Unite union, who are even more gung-ho for Hinkley C to go ahead than Conservative ministers, and point out they are not prepared to sacrifice their livelihoods for this astronomically expensive atomic white elephant, just to keep the Chinese on side.
Guardian 31st March 2016 read more »
Britain’s special relationship with China is becoming more expensive by the day. It now threatens to destroy the British steel industry, a foundation pillar of our manufacturing economy. Britain is not alone. Most of Europe’s steel foundries are heading for annihilation under the current EU trade regime, with unthinkable consequences through the network of European and British supply chains. It is hard to pin down the exact moment when George Osborne’s love affair with China turned into a Faustian Pact. One can applaud Mr Osborne’s push for amicable trade with China as a general principle, for to do otherwise risks turning the world’s rising superpower into a hostile challenger. Yet the suspicion in Brussels is that he has become a Fifth Columnist for Beijing inside the Justus Lipsius building, either because he is dancing to the tune of London bankers angling for the yuan trade, or because he thinks China can breathe life into his Northern Powerhouse, or simply because the Government has painted itself into a corner over Hinkley Point.
Telegraph 31st March 2016 read more »
Cash-strapped EDF could have to find an additional £2bn to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. There’s rising pressure at the French utility giant over whether its already strained balance sheet will be able to shoulder the hugely expensive project. An independent report regarding the controversial project seen by the Times claims the updated cost could be as high as €25.3 billion (£19.8 billion). This is because Areva, the company behind the nuclear reactors which will be used, is repricing its technology ahead of the final investment decision in early May. Michel Degryck, managing partner of the Paris-based corporate finance advisory Capitalmind which conducted the analysis, said: “We understand that a number of costs were probably underestimated when they did their last pricing [of the reactor] in 2013.” “They will have to take into account new costs . . . The cost of the project could rise by 10 per cent.”
City AM 31st March 2016 read more »
Hinkley Point, where the UK’s energy policy for the 2020s rests on the premise that French state-backed outfit EDF really will build a £18bn nuclear station in Somerset that will open in 2025 to supply 7% of our electricity. This bet is looking weaker with every passing week. In the latest instalment, a group of EDF engineers have written a paper arguing that 2027 is the earliest “realistic” opening date. Meanwhile, EDF’s board has not been able to bring its rebellious unions to heel. As we report, Christian Taxil, an employee board member representing the CFE-CGC union, has called for the project to be postponed. EDF can – and did – dismiss these tales as fluff. The engineers’ paper was not taken to the board, the company argues, and unions’ opposition to Hinkley is long-standing.
Guardian 30th March 2016 read more »
In recent days, a number of unfounded rumours and fanciful stories, from anonymous sources, have been put out in the media. They explicitly target, in a concerted way, the project to build two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point. EDF refutes these rumours and confirms that the date of first operation of the first reactor is fixed at the end of 2025 and that no delay is anticipated. EDF regards this anonymous press campaign as seriously harmful to our interests as well as the interests of the industry and to jobs in France and Europe. EDF would like to reiterate that the Board, or its committees, have already met on multiple occasions to consider the Hinkley Point project, based on detailed and exhaustive information. The Board will have at its disposal all the necessary information to make a decision once the time has come to take the Final investment Decision.
EDF 30th March 2016 read more »
GREEN energy campaigners have accused the Government of backing “the wrong horses” for their support of nuclear projects like Hinkley C in Somerset after figures revealed a drop in greenhouse gas emissions. The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell below 500 million tonnes for the first time last year, as renewables hit a record 25 per cent of the power mix, official figures show. Power generation from renewables jumped from 19 per cent in 2014 to 25 per cent of the total in 2015, overtaking coal which fell to 23 per cent, while gas accounted for 30 per cent of the electricity mix and nuclear 21 per cent, separate figures on energy showed. Juliet Davenport, chief executive of green energy company Good Energy, said: “Yet again renewables are really proving their worth and it’s fantastic to see record amounts of electricity generated by renewable sources. “Renewables have shown incredible growth in the last few years and are leading the way when it comes to making the UK more energy secure in the future.”
Somerset County Gazette 1st April 2016 read more »
A BOARD member at EDF Energy will vote against the £18billion plan to build a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point near Bridgwater, reports the BBC. Representative of the CFE-CGC union Christian Taxil, who sits on the board representing thousands of workers, said the French energy giant was currently in a weak financial position and there were technical issues with the design of the reactor.
Central Somerset Gazette 31st March 2016 read more »
EDF claim Hinkley Point is on target. EDF yesterday issued an extraordinary statement criticising anonymous sources briefing against the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor project. The French energy giant faces substantial opposition within elements of its own company and from powerful French unions over the £18 billion project in Somerset. They fear that the project could put the viability of state-owned EDF at risk. A story, published in The Financial Times, claimed that senior engineers at EDF wanted the project delayed by at least two years and for the reactor design to be changed – making it simpler and cheaper to build. But EDF issued a strongly worded statement yesterday over the reports. It said: “In recent days, a number of unfounded rumours and fanciful stories, from anonymous sources, have been put out in the media. “They explicitly target, in a concerted way, the project to build two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point. “EDF refutes these rumours and confirms that the date of first operation of the first reactor is fixed at the end of 2025 and that no delay is anticipated. EDF regards this anonymous press campaign as seriously harmful to our interests as well as the interests of the industry and to jobs in France and Europe. “EDF would like to reiterate that the Board, or its committees, have already met on multiple occasions to consider the Hinkley Point project, based on detailed and exhaustive information.
Western Daily Press 31st March 2016 read more »