Report exposes EDF’s funding crisis and raises profound
questions about how – and whether – Hinkley Point will be finished
EDF totally reliant on ‘nuclear tax’ to build Sizewell C
A report released today by Professor Stephen
Thomas,  an academic specialising in the economics and policy of nuclear
power, exposes EDF’s parlous finances and highlights the company’s absolute
dependency on a hoped-for ‘nuclear tax’ in order to build Sizewell C. Suffolk
campaigners TEAGS, who commissioned the report, said the report starkly
showed just how impossible it would be for EDF to pay for Sizewell C, meaning
that electricity consumers could be asked to pay billions extra on their bills
long before any power is generated, for the privilege of EDF permanently
destroying some of the country’s most biodiverse natural heritage.
The report “Financing the Hinkley Point C project” documents how –
with more than £15bn in loan guarantees offered by the UK government now
definitively known to have been cancelled by EDF,  their share of Hinkley’s
costs has doubled, from an expected £6.3bn in 2013 to at least £14bn. It also
reveals that EDF’s profitability has decreased, its expenses in France –
especially Flamanville and work to extend the lives of ageing reactors – have
increased, and a ‘fire sale’ of assets only raised half of the company’s €14bn
target, circumstances that combine to make the completion of Hinkley Point
based on its own resources, rather than borrowing, highly doubtful.
Outlining EDF’s financial challenges in the
report’s Executive Summary, Professor Thomas says: “A funding crisis has put
the completion of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in doubt and has been
brewing for at least five years. However, it is only part of the financial
collapse that the majority owner, EDF is facing. Borrowing without guarantees
is impossible, so completing Hinkley will need an open-ended commitment of
British and French public money. The sensible course is to abandon the plant
now before more public money is wasted.”
Professor Thomas’ findings illustrate just
how totally reliant EDF is on the possibility of a new funding scheme to
finance Sizewell C. The proposed Regulated Asset Base (RAB) approach, which the
nuclear industry is pressuring British Ministers to adopt, would essentially be
a ‘nuclear tax’, similar to the discredited PPP (Public Private Partnerships)
of the 1990s. “It would be giving EDF a ‘blank cheque’ to proceed with
Sizewell C, with the inevitable cost overruns loaded onto taxpayers and
electricity customers,” says Alison Downes of TEAGS, who commissioned the
Government has yet to reveal the results of
the consultation on RAB – a ‘tax’ that 36,000 supporters of consumer campaign
group SumOfUs oppose.  In December, Sizewell C Project lead at the time, Jim
Crawford, admitted to a Suffolk Community Forum that“if the RAB model or something similar is proposed which
will fall outside an acceptable price range for the government, then the project
probably won’t go ahead. It’s as simple as that.” 
Alison Downes adds: “What this report
reveals is the shaky nature of EDF’s finances and its total dependence on the
RAB for Sizewell C. Surely this information, coupled with EDF’s appalling
record of cost overruns and delays at all its EPR projects, should shatter any
illusions that Sizewell C could offer value for money through the timely
delivery of the project at an acceptable and predictable cost.
2. There was some ambiguity in EDF’s previous statements about the loan guarantees. In October 2015 EDF said ‘The project is due to be equity funded by each partner, at least during a first stage.’ (our emphasis) https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/nuclear-new-build-projects/hinkley-point-c/news-views/agreements-in-place. The information that EDF had completely cancelled the guarantee was confirmed in email exchanges between BEIS and TEAGS in December 2019. Conditions attached to the guarantee had included the operation of Flamanville by the end of 2020, a target EDF will miss by some distance.
This page features statements by the candidates for Suffolk Coastal Constituency on Sizewell C. They are listed in ballot paper order.
COFFEY Thérèse (Conservative):
Andrea Leadsom understands the concerns I have on how these [energy] projects are being proposed to be implemented, even though she knows I support renewables and zero carbon nuclear energy – which both need to become well established as the major source of energy to tackle climate change.
I have met both Natural England and Environment Agency specifically about Sizewell C. Informed by that discussion, I still think the jury is out on whether the environment questions can be sufficiently answered by EDF prior to their application. I strongly oppose the road-led strategy and strongly support the rail-led strategy. The impact on the local community and environment must be addressed. Extracted at her request from letter to constituents dated 6/11/19, which included onshore infrastructure for offshore power. Read https://www.theresecoffey.co.uk/sites/www.theresecoffey.co.uk/files/2019-11/EnergyletterNovember2019.pdf.
Postscript from TEAGS. The Conservative Party’s manifesto on new nuclear says: “We will support gas for hydrogen production and nuclear energy, including fusion, as important parts of the energy system, alongside increasing our commitment to renewables.” TEAGS also notes (relevant for RAB) the following manifesto statement: “For many families, energy costs are a major source of financial pressure. We will keep our existing energy cap and introduce new measures to lower bills.” Read online at https://vote.conservatives.com/our-plan
EWART Jules (Liberal Democrats):
In short, we would try and block the development of Sizewell via any means possible. The Lib Dems have said categorically they will never back any future nuclear developments with public money, and we have pledged £10bn towards renewables (including the reintroduction of solar subsidies).
In opposing Sizewell we’d seek alternative opportunities for employment, graduate programs etc. that would suffer if Sizewell C was abandoned. Having said that, it doesn’t look like there are very many. Given our coastline, we should continue to develop wind power and become a centre of excellence for renewables that other places in the country would look to for expertise.
The Lib Dems have made a clear statement to shift the balance of power in planning policy. At the moment the government has far too much power to satisfy its green energy quotas with ill-conceived projects that pay lip service to local consultation.
Away from the headline figures in the Lib Dem manifesto, there is also a clear intent to empower non-governmental organisations to hold energy companies and the government to account. The local council has folded meekly with Sizewell and it frankly beggars belief that an AONB like Friston has to suffer a gigantic substation EIGHT MILES IN LAND because it was more convenient for the energy company! How can an energy company and a government ride roughshod over a community like this???
We will give the Environment Agency more powers, restore the Department for Climate change and we will support the introduction of a new Office of Environmental Protection. It isn’t only the Greens who are serious about the environment.
Postscript from TEAGS.The Lib Dems’ manifesto does not mention nuclear energy:https://www.libdems.org.uk/plan. However, when asked by the BBC their position on the Wylfa B new nuclear project on Ynys Môn (Anglesey), a Welsh Lib Dem spokesperson said there was currently “no economic or environmental case” to build any new nuclear plants in the UK. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50559046
LOVE Tony (Independent Brexit):
We have asked Tony for his position on Sizewell C but not received any reply to date. We will update this page if that changes. Contact Tony Love: https://lovesuffolkcoastal.org/
Postscript from TEAGS: Although Tony Love is standing as an independent, he was originally selected as a candidate for the Brexit Party and we understand that he is campaigning on that platform. Please let us know if this is incorrect. The Brexit Party’s “contract” makes no mention of nuclear power. Read online here: https://www.thebrexitparty.org/contract/
MATTHEWS Cameron (Labour):
Sizewell C and the Friston substation are energy infrastructure projects which divide opinion across Suffolk Coastal. My position has been reached after extensive consultation with local communities, trade unions, and the Labour Party at national and constituency level.
Suffolk Coastal Labour does not support the concept of ‘The Energy Coast’. The branding itself puts at risk the visitor and tourist economy of East Suffolk which depends on The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It conflicts with established identities such as ‘The Sunshine Coast’ and ‘The Heritage Coast’. The huge industrial projects proposed threaten the local economy and environment without bringing any benefits. Traffic congestion on the A12 and rural roads will discourage visitors and compromise the quality of life of local residents.
Labour remains committed to nuclear power needed for energy security. In Suffolk Coastal, Labour opposes the development of new nuclear capacity at Sizewell. The Sizewell C development cannot be undertaken without unacceptable impacts on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It will compromise the future of RSPB Minsmere, and, especially during the construction period, other Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the highly sensitive local environment. It will threaten jobs and prosperity in the visitor and tourist economy, the agricultural sector and food and drink industries. It offers very few new permanent jobs for local people. Current proposals to mitigate the worst effects of the construction project are grossly underfunded and will not relieve the impact of huge numbers of vehicle movements for goods and people on the A12 and surrounding rural roads. There are no proposals to invest adequately in rail alternatives.
Labour is firmly committed to the existing workforce at Sizewell and will work with trade unions to support energy workers through the transition to greener alternative energy jobs and guarantee retraining and a new, unionised job on equivalent terms and conditions.
Suffolk Coastal Labour is shocked by the decision of East Suffolk Council to approve the clearance of Coronation Wood and other enabling works for Sizewell C before a decision has been taken on the future of the project.
Postscript from TEAGS.The Labour Party’s manifesto on new nuclear says: “We will build….. New nuclear power needed for energy security” and “The Tories have let down the people of Ynys Môn by failing to deliver the Wylfa project. Labour will work with people on the island to maximise its potential for new nuclear energy, alongside investment in renewables.” Read online at https://labour.org.uk/manifesto
SMITH-LYTE Rachel (Green):
I find myself asking the question, when did our Heritage Coast become the energy coast? The Green Party is the only party (apart from the SNP) officially against new nuclear because of safety (think Fukushima / Chernobyl / 3 mile Island etc)
and I’ve just learned, the County Council now has the responsibility for the emergency planning for Sizewell which frankly does not fill me with confidence (nor them I suspect). We also object because of nuclear waste disposal and storage problems as well as potential links to nuclear weapons.
Personally it makes no sense to me why you would decimate part of our AONB, not to mention the CO2 emissions from the HGV movements to get it built, for a 10-15 year build by which time it will be too late to be of any use in the ‘fight’ against climate breakdown on a crumbling coastline with sea level rise, all to prop up the dilapidated EDF. Oh yeah, and those high skilled well paid jobs promised? Turns out actually not so many to run a nuclear power station once built and mostly not local either as too specialised.
Postscript from TEAGS. The Greens’ manifesto on new nuclear says: [We would] “prohibit the construction of nuclear power stations. We know that nuclear is a distraction from developing renewable energy, carries an unacceptable risk for the communities living close to nuclear energy facilities, creates unmanageable quantities of radioactive waste and is inextricably linked with the production of world-destroying nuclear weapons.” Read online at https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/Elections/Green%20Party%20Manifesto%202019.pdf
Community and consumer campaigners say the “regulated asset base” funding model will expose electricity bill-payers to huge cost and habitual overspends of nuclear developers such as EDF
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11 October 2019
[LONDON] Today, campaigners from Sizewell, Hinkley Point and Bradwell nuclear sites and consumer group SumOfUs will visit the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to deliver a 35,454-signature petition protesting the government’s proposal to subsidise new nuclear power plants by hiking energy bills.
The petition calls on the government to scrap plans to subsidise the nuclear industry through a “regulated asset base” (RAB) funding model, under which consumers would be forced to pay a surcharge on their energy bills for new nuclear power projects such as Sizewell C in Suffolk and Bradwell B in Essex.
“Government Ministers need to think again about the u-turn that is this “Ridiculous Atomic Bailout” said Alison Downes of Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell. “Hinkley Point has proven that this generation of new nuclear is a non-starter commercially, but making us, the consumer, pay through our electricity bills to build something so expensive, outdated, slow and politically unpopular is unacceptable, especially in such environmentally sensitive locations as Sizewell and Bradwell.”
Of the 35,454 people who have signed the SumOfUs petition, 2,932 are EDF customers and 14,689 are customers who have chosen a renewable electricity tariff. Over 4,000 people have also contacted BEIS directly to raise their objections to the RAB funding model through a SumOfUs action page.
“It is preposterous that consumers should be forced to subsidise private corporations,” said Sondhya Gupta, campaigns manager at SumOfUs. “Nuclear energy is a technology fraught with difficulties and there are better, cheaper and more sustainable options out there to help guarantee our energy security. It’s time the government listened to what bill payers want.”
Originally intended to be part of an Energy White Paper, BEIS quietly pushed its consultation on the controversial RAB model out in mid July. The scheme has attracted significant criticism, especially in the light of EDF’s announced £3 billion overspend at Hinkley Point, to which the BBC’s Simon Jack responded “Making a forty-year bet on another nuclear station with a funding model that exposes consumers to those overruns, is a big call for any government to make.” The consultation closes on 14 October.
“Hinkley Point C will cost consumers somewhere between £27bn and £50bn over 35 years. Rather than admit that nuclear power is far too expensive, especially after cost estimates for the new station have leaped by £3bn to £23bn, the Government has come up with a new way to fleece consumers which shifts the risk for future reactors onto hard pressed bill payers. Time for them to drop this ridiculous plan now.” said Sue Aubrey of Stop Hinkley.
“The fact is that without this model, EDF cannot pay for Sizewell” said Chris Wilson of Together Against Sizewell C. “The Moorside and Wylfa fiascos show us that without massive subsidies, nuclear projects will crash and burn. Instead of tying us to expensive white elephants, Government should instead be looking for ways to accelerate the growth of renewable energy, which is cheaper and quicker to deliver, and transforming energy distribution to a more flexible grid which removes the need for “baseload” energy.“
“In addition to opposing new nuclear build altogether BANNG vigorously objects to the RAB approach. This effectively gives an unquantified scale of financial support to overseas states (in respect of EDF and CGN) governed by a new, zero track record regulator with a vested interest in maintaining their own livelihoods” said Peter Banks of BANNG.
The community groups taking part in the petition delivery are Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell, Together Against Sizewell C, Blackwater Against New Nuclear (BANNG, Bradwell), Stop Hinkley, the B1122 Action Group (Sizewell) and Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group.
Notes to editors:
View photos from the petition delivery here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xif8p52t1uummhp/AABc5RL8Y8Ji4xLH7ABTTlT_a?dl=0
TOURISM RESEARCH SHOWS ANOTHER SERIOUS DOWNSIDE TO SIZEWELL C
Local campaign groups have reacted with concern to the research released today by the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation (DMO),  which undermines EDF’s claim that Sizewell C will bring significant numbers of jobs and economic benefit to the area.
“This new research concludes that losses to the vital local tourism sector could amount to £40 million a year and could cost 400 jobs. It drives a bulldozer through the promised economic benefits claimed for Sizewell C,” said Alison Downes, co-chair of the Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS).
EDF’s target is for 2000 ‘home-based’ workers, but defines ‘home-based’ as up to 90 minutes’ drive away, plus 500 workers on associated developments. EDF acknowledges this is an ambitious target but claims it is realistic. A further 3,600 workers – and potentially thousands more given that EDF is modelling a possible workforce of up to 7,900 – will be from more than 90 minutes’ drive away, and have to be accommodated in the local area.
“For the full impact on business and employment, you have got to consider all the negatives of Sizewell C too,” states Charles Macdowell of the B1122 Action Group, which covers several villages near the site. “Suffolk Coastal has the lowest unemployment in the East of England, with only 445 registered jobseekers at the last count in 2015. . Hotels, restaurants and shops will have to compete hard for scarcer workers. Farming and public services like health and social care are also likely to be affected.”
As well as having to recruit and train new employees to replace those lost to EDF, tourism and other local businesses will be badly hit by the decade-long traffic congestion associated with the construction project, further hurting their competitiveness.
The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB has a tourism value of at least £200 million pounds a year.  EDF claims it will pump £100 million into the ‘local’ economy but campaigners are sceptical about how much of this will be felt in the immediate area, especially when offset against tourism and other losses. A 2017 Oxford Economics report on the economic impact of Sellafield found that where there is a low level of specialist skills locally, direct labour costs and supply chain ‘spend’ inevitably flows out of the local economy. 
“Many people, including some in local government, think that Sizewell C’s jobs make it worthwhile despite its devastating effect on the environment, traffic and Suffolk’s famed peace and tranquility. We consider this a fiction. With the vast majority of workers on Sizewell C coming from outside the area, and the losses to our valued tourism industry, we are deeply concerned that the economic impact of Sizewell C in the immediate vicinity will be negative.” said Alison.
25 September 2019: EDF’s announcement today about the risks of cost and time overruns at Hinkley Point undermine its own arguments in favour of proposed twin EPR build at Sizewell C, where the fourth – and final – stage of public consultations ends this Friday, 27 September.
EDF has been giving assurances that the cost increases at Hinkley Point would not hit the consumer,  yet EDF is known to be pinning its hopes for financing Sizewell C on the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) under which consumers would pay for Sizewell from the outset.
“Today’s news shows all of us that using RAB for Sizewell C is a terrible idea; the government seriously needs to think again about using this model for new nuclear, where price setting would be such a regulatory minefield, given that on EDF’s EPRs the cost overruns and delays are of such epic proportions. And these risks are in addition to the huge risks of building twin reactors in such an environmentally sensitive location as Sizewell” said Alison Downes of Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS) 
Paul Spence of EDF’s comments also highlight the possibility of Sizewell being delayed, saying the company would be “taking the Hinkley Point design which will be absolutely completed at that point and taking the same team to Sizewell as the best way to get a low cost construction”.
“EDF’s comments proves that the schedule for Sizewell will be wholly dependent on the schedule for Hinkley, adding yet more uncertainty, especially as further delays at Hinkley cannot be ruled out. Local people are already cynical about the benefits of Sizewell C if EDF is reliant on utilising its existing Hinkley workforce and supply chain to save money in Suffolk. Coupled with the release today of a report by the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation outlining potential impacts on tourism , we are forced to conclude that the promised economic benefits of Sizewell C are very unlikely to be felt in the immediate area, and will be overwhelmingly outweighed by the negative impacts” added Alison Downes.
Suffolk County Council has unanimously approved its joint response to the Sizewell C stage four consultation – but said it was disappointed questions over key issues remain unanswered.
Action groups protest outside Endeavour House, as consultations take place over Sizewell C. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE
Cabinet met yesterday, Tuesday, September 24, to discuss the consultation and to vote on its response to EDF Energy.
More than 20 people staged a protest outside Endeavour House in Ipswich before the meeting to voice their concerns about the £14billion project.
Cabinet members said they had been disappointed the energy firm hadn’t addressed concerns raised by Suffolk County and East Suffolk Councils since the previous consultation and the apparent lack of progress on a rail-led strategy to transport construction materials.
Councillor Richard Smith, chairman of the Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG), said: “Most disappointing is not what it says but what it doesn’t say.ADVERTISING
Jenny Kirtley of Together Against Sizewell C. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE
“By the end of stage three we had generated a list of 300 issues we wanted EDF Energy to address.
“Each and every one of these issues are important to us as they arise from what the people of Suffolk want to see addressed.”
He added: “We said very clearly at the first stage of consultation, to move forward with our report and support the power station we must be confident the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.”
Councillor Mary Evans said the consultation included a “sorry apology for a transport strategy”.
Alison Downes of Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE
She said: “Suffolk County Council understands the benefit of Sizewell C will have in terms of electricity supply and hundreds of skilled jobs.
“But I am not alone in being fearful of the impact.”
Issues over the negative impact the project could have on the environment and surrounding Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were also discussed.
Councillor Richard Rout said more information was needed to get a full picture of the impact it would have on Suffolk’s coastline.
He said: “There’s still a stark and significant lack of detail in how it will impact on ecology of the areas affected.
Councillor David Wood, from the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent (LDGI) Group, said Sizewell C was a “monstrous proposal” and described the consultation as having been “woefully inaccurate”.
Protests have been taking place in Ipswich over plans for a new power station on the Suffolk coast.
Various groups gathered outside Suffolk County Council where the cabinet was discussing EDF’s proposal to build Sizewell C.
Some are opposed to the project, others say the company should do more to reduce the impact on the local environment.
Alison Downes, Action Group on Sizewell said: “There are too many studies that haven’t been initiated or shared. Independent studies on road routes, how it will affect the community and the most serious is about the environmental impacts.”
Public consultation ends on Friday, with EDF likely to submit their application to the Planning Inspectorate in the New Year.
“When we’ve completed the consultation process, we’ll then start performing an environmental impact assessment. That will have all the details on what we expect the impact to be and our proposals to mitigate those impacts for the benefit of everyone who lives in this area.”
– JIM CRAWFORD, SIZEWELL C PROJECT DIRECTORLast updated Tue 24 Sep 2019
WATCH: Thousands meet in Love Minsmere campaign against new power station at Sizewell C
Thousands of people were joined by Suffolk celebrities to show their love for Minsmere in the face of plans to build a third nuclear reactor at Sizewell.
Read/Watch online ‘Stop the Station!’: Exclusive interviews with Bill Turnbull and Diana Quick on saving Suffolk wildlife from SizewellVideo: Rachel Edge EDF plans reveal they would build on the RSPB site which could potentially destroy wildlife.
The ‘Love Minsmere’ festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE
The Suffolk coastal locals were joined by TV and radio presenter Bill Turnbull and actress Diana Quick who spoke out against the plans to extend the power plant, in a bid to protect the wildlife at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve.
Turnbull spoke at the gathering, which saw an estimated 1,500 attendees create a huge human heart on the grounds of the reserve, just a day after chairing a public meeting where locals heard from Sizewell C opponent Richard Cuttell.
At Sunday’s Love Minsmere Festival, Turnbull said: “I live just a couple of miles away so Minsmere is right on my doorstep, as is Sizewell.
“It’s a beautiful place to come to and the work they have done here is remarkable.
The ‘Love Minsmere’ festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE
“The difficulty is that is all now at risk because of the proposal to put a huge, massive nuclear power station right on the doorstep.
“[Minsmere] is a treasure chest of wildlife and we need to make sure we don’t put it at risk.
“Anybody who loves nature has got to think that’s a bit nuts.”
Quick added: “[Minsmere] is full of sites of special scientific interest and areas of outstanding natural beauty and all of that could be is going to be very compromised if Sizewell C goes ahead.”
The ‘Love Minsmere’ festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE
During the meeting on Saturday morning at St Peter’s Church, Theberton, near Saxmundham, opponents to the proposed power station were urged to “keep fighting” by Turnbull.
Mr Cuttell, who was a key opponent to Sizewell C’s sister power station at Hinkley point in Somerset, told attendees to “question everything and keep fighting”, adding: “All I can suggest is persevere and put as much effort in as is humanly possible.”
After his presentation, Mr Turnbull – who lives nearby – said he was “grateful for the advice” Mr Cuttell gave, but added: “It made me feel pretty sick.”
EDF Energy says a new plant next to its existing Sizewell B and A stations is critical to meeting the country’s energy needs.
The ‘Love Minsmere’ festival in Saxmundham. PICTURE: RACHEL EDGE
“Our aim is to maximise the huge benefits in jobs and skills for local people, especially the young, whilst minimising the environmental impact of the project,” a spokesman for the company said.