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UK Approves New Nuclear Power Plant Despite Financial and Environmental Concerns

The UK Government has announced a controversial deal with a French energy company to build a new nuclear power plant in South West England to provide power to 5 million homes, reports Patrick Wintour.
October 22, 2013, 6am PDT | Kat Martindale
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British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that the French Energy company EDF, backed by Chinese investors, will build the UK's first nuclear power station for twenty years.  The plant is to be located on an existing industrial site on the coast of county of Somerset, in South West England.

Ed Davey, Energy Secretary, stated that the new plant was essential to avoid "lights going out" and indicated that the average household electricity bill should fall by £70 within seven years of the plant's completion.  However, initial investment would be funded by increased energy bills adding to current discontent regarding the cost of investment in the research and development of green energies.

Opponents have pointed out that the fixed or 'strike' price at which the new energy will be sold, £92.50 per megawatt hour, is twice that of the current wholesale price and will give the company an anticipated 10% return on its investment. This price, however, is reliant on EDF building a second plant at Sizewell in Suffolk and will be reassessed after 7.5, 15, 25 and 35 years.  The plant is expected to have an operational lifespan of 35 years.

Beyond controversy over the strike price, cost to energy users and the likelihood that profits will be realised in France rather than in the UK, environmental concerns remain.  It will be the first nuclear plant to be built following the disaster at Fukushima two years ago where leaks and contamination continue to be regularly reported. 

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Published on Monday, October 21, 2013 in The Guardian
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