Hinkley Point: For a prosperous, low-carbon future, the stakes could not be higher

In September 2016, the UK Government gave final approval for the £18m Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear plant in Somerset - Britain's first new nuclear plant in a generation.

The approval of the 3.2 gigawatts twin-reactor power station marks the conclusion of ten years of preparation and rigorous planning. It will benefit from the joint strengths of the British and French nuclear industries, and will lead to the creation of 25,000 job opportunities on the site during construction. It will also offer numerous opportunities for local and national businesses.

Hinkley Point C, funded by French and Chinese Governments, could provide 7pc of the UK’s electricity needs, with the first electricity expected to be generated in 2025. A total of almost £4bn will go into the South West regional economy over the lifetime of the project.

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute at the University of Birmingham, comments on the projects’ final approval, highlighting the positive stimulus it will provide the UK economy.

“The journey to the realisation of Hinkley Point C (HPC) has regularly, and unceasingly, raised and dashed the hopes of supporters and opponents alike.

Hard on the heels of Brexit, the resignation of David Cameron and the succession of Theresa May, priorities shifted. Everything was back on the table and Hinkley Point C (HPC) was again in doubt. Until, the Government finally gave the green light and decided to go ahead with the project last week.

The scale of projects linked to nuclear and high speed rail will see tens of billions of pounds go into the UK economy, at a time when many predictions are that, on the back of Brexit, there will be a recession. The scale of investment will see tens of thousands of new jobs and demand for British steel at a time when the steel industry needs it. This will be a reason to continue to invest in the UK economy at a stage when many companies are questioning their future headquartering in the UK when it was once seen as a gateway to Europe. For nuclear power plant builders, the UK remains a shop window where there is one of the toughest regulatory environments, giving the technology the UK Kitemark.

Though the upfront costs are high, this is a crucial capital investment that will secure lower cost electricity over the operation of the HPC plant, which will be the next 60 years, and through the associated civil build project, provide much needed stimulus to the UK economy. For those that want to see the UK achieve low carbon, secure electricity, and those who care about UK prosperity and growth, the approval of the HPC project was a rather high stake and landmark decision.”