Hinkley Point plans welcomed by GMB and Unite but GMB has concerns over Bradwell

China flagThe GMB has said while it welcomes a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, it has deep concerns about plans to develop a plant at Bradwell in Essex.

The government yesterday announced French-owned EDF and China-owned General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) had reached a deal to construct the £18bn plant in Somerset and set up a wider UK partnership to develop new nuclear power stations at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell.

Phil Whitehurst, GMB National Officer for construction, said: “We welcome this agreement on investment for Hinkley Point C. It is as another piece of the jigsaw in place for a project with 25,000 job opportunities, 1,000 apprenticeships and 60% of the construction cost going to UK companies.

“Nuclear power is needed to provide low carbon base load electricity to keep the lights in the UK on the 8 to 10 days per month when renewables are not generating power for the grid.”

But he vowed the union would continue to campaign against giving the go-ahead for Chinese nuclear technology to be used in a new nuclear power station at Bradwell.

He said: “Chinese nuclear technology is unproven and no UK government should even consider allowing it to be used in a new nuclear power station 60 miles from London.

“Given our long history in improving safety in the nuclear industry we were deeply concerned to read the comments of physicist He Zuoxiu, an eminent nuclear scientist in China. He Zuoxiu has publicly raised concerns about the safety standards of Chinese components in the nuclear industry. Indeed he has gone further in criticising the Chinese nuclear industry, and it is unusual for such an official to speak out in this way. It suggests that there are very serious issues in the nuclear industry

“GMB and people in this country also will not tolerate thousands of Chinese workers being brought over to assemble and build the Chinese reactor on the cheap. We will not tolerate a betrayal of the interests of manufacturing and construction workers in the UK by the Tories.

“We have the technology and funding in the UK. GMB consider that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority should be re-tasked and renamed the Nuclear Development Authority. It should be given authority to build Bradwell.

“MPs must force the government to retreat on this totally unnecessary policy at Bradwell.”

Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said: “We welcome the news as securing long-term employment for our skilled members in the region and also contributing to future energy security.

“Although Hinkley Point has successfully raised the finance, this has taken a long time, so we need to ask, as a country, whether this investment model is the best and most cost effective way of financing much needed investment in future UK infrastructure projects.

“It is clear that the private sector struggles to provide the necessary money for these large scale schemes.

“The case for greater government involvement in terms of long-term finance in such projects becomes clearer by the day. Hinkley Point is being built and financed by two non-UK entities.

“There is no room for complacency and the UK is not out of the woods in terms of a strategic energy blueprint and this is something that energy secretary Amber Rudd needs to tackle as a matter of urgency.

“Unite has repeatedly warned that business and domestic consumers face the very real prospect of power cuts and the lights going out in the years to come, if such a strategy is not forthcoming very soon.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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