Directors at a management consultant advising the government on the Hinkley Point nuclear power project were paid by a related company working for EDF, The Times has learnt. Half of the board of directors at Leigh Fisher were remunerated by Jacobs, according to accounts for the consultant. Leigh Fisher worked as an adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change on a 35-year deal with EDF to build the £18 billion facility in Somerset, under which consumers will pay well above the present market rate for electricity. The Times reported last week that Leigh Fisher had been awarded contracts worth a combined £1.2 million, despite the British division of Jacobs Engineering Group, an American company that also owns Leigh Fisher, working for EDF on the Hinkley Point project. The potential conflicts of interest have raised concerns about whether advice given by Leigh Fisher was impartial. Iain Wright, chairman of the business, energy and industrial select committee, said that he would investigate further. Leigh Fisher was awarded government work after disclosing several potential conflicts, including that Jacobs provided engineering services and project and construction management resources for EDF and had seconded staff. Leigh Fisher also used consultants from Jacobs in its work for the department. It told officials when bidding for a second contract last summer that those experts would not have worked on Hinkley Point with EDF and that Leigh Fisher was independently managed and operated. Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West who has campaigned against Hinkley Point, said “it stinks like a rotten fish”.
Times 28th Nov 2016 read more »
When she brewed up her company’s strategy a decade ago, Anne Lauvergeon liked to describe Areva’s business model as being “like Nespresso”. France’s state-owned nuclear reactor vendor would be the world’s first integrated nuclear group, mining and enriching uranium, manufacturing fuel rods, building reactors and recycling spent fuel. While reactors (like Nespresso machines) would be sold to Areva’s customers at a knockdown price, the company would earn big bucks supplying the nuclear fuel (the coffee, in other words) to captive customers and handling and disposing nuclear waste. It didn’t work out that way. This month, as France’s nuclear industry grapples with a crisis that has prompted the shutdown of 12 of the country’s 58 reactors, amid safety fears over Areva-made components, the Nespresso machine appears to be smashed beyond repair. But what next? Areva’s collapse poses big questions for the future of the nuclear industry, not only in France. In Finland, an unfinished EPR lies stranded at the end of a remote forest peninsula on the Gulf of Bothnia. TVO, its Finnish developer, fears that the project, where costs have trebled to 9 billion, may run out of cash even before it can be completed. EDF has refused to accept liabilities and a huge legal battle looms. Meanwhile, at Flamanville in Normandy, a simmering dispute over the quality of steel used in another Areva reactor has prompted fears that the project may have to be abandoned, or at least forced to operate with restricted output.
Times 28th Nov 2016 read more »