Hinkley Point C

Oral Answers to Questions — Energy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th July 1988.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Ronnie Fearn Mr Ronnie Fearn , Southport 12:00 am, 4th July 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has on the basis upon which the Central Electricity Generating Board extended the expected life span of the proposed pressurised water reactor at Hinkley Point C by five years; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Michael Spicer Michael Spicer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Energy)

Subject to meeting the necessary safety requirements, plant lives are commercial matters for the generators concerned.

Photo of Mr Ronnie Fearn Mr Ronnie Fearn , Southport

Does the Minister agree that extending the life of Hinkley Point by five years and reducing the price of electricity by 15 per cent. is strange? Does he also agree that, in doing so, the CEGB is moving the goal posts once again because of the pressure that is now being brought to bear on nuclear power?

Photo of Michael Spicer Michael Spicer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Energy)

No, I do not agree that it is strange. An initial assumption must be made about the economic life, for planning purposes. There is no reason why that should not be revised in the light of changed commercial considerations, as long as the plant meets all the safety conditions laid down by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

Photo of Mr Ian Bruce Mr Ian Bruce , South Dorset

Does my hon. Friend agree that the history of Magnox stations, whose lives have been usefully extended even though the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has increased safety standards time and again, is indicative of the life that one can get from nuclear power and of the good economic argument for continuing nuclear power in this country?

Photo of Michael Spicer Michael Spicer Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Energy)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The economic life of Magnox stations has been increased from 20 to 25 and then to 30 years. That was done with increased safety standards. The Government's main concern is to ensure that commercial judgment is allowed to the operator, but, above all, that the plants are safe.