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[Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair] — Clean Energy Investment

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:09 am on 25th November 2015.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West 10:09 am, 25th November 2015

My speech was made by the splendid hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts), and very much not by David Mowat, who represents nuclear power in this Parliament. The pied piper of nuclear power has managed to bewitch many people in this country, but the facts are devastating.

We are planning to build a European pressurised reactor, but such reactors have never produced enough electricity to light a bicycle lamp. The reactor in Finland was due to be generating electricity in 2009, and it is now six years late; the one at Flamanville in Normandy, France, which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, is seven years late. Both reactors are billions and billions over-budget and neither has any date for completion. This year, the reactor at Flamanville had a very special problem when the pressure vessel, a vital part, was found to be made of steel that was brittle and liable to crack. That will add years of delay.

The financial deal that we have agreed with the French, of course, is crazy—Alice in Wonderland stuff. The French are in it because otherwise EDF would go bankrupt; it has debts of €33 billion. The Chinese want to come in after all the sensible investment has gone because they want to take control of not just Hinkley Point but all the future nuclear power stations that might be built. That is the deal. We have bequeathed to China the future of our nuclear industry, and to China it is a deal, but it is not a deal financially because nuclear power has been a basket case.

Lapping the walls of Hinkley Point C, or Hinkley Point A and B as it is now, is an immense power source that we have neglected for centuries. Tidal power has already been mentioned. A vast cliff of water flows up and down the Severn twice a day, and it could be tapped with simple technology to produce electricity that is, of course, not only green but entirely predictable. People have attacked other renewables, such as wind and solar, for being uncertain, but we can predict the power of the tide virtually for eternity. The Government appear to be slowing down on schemes for tidal barrages at Swansea, Newport, Cardiff and north Wales, and we know about Strangford lough. When the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly considered alternatives, we were hugely impressed by what is going on in Scotland, including its real progress on hydroelectricity.

The blind alley—the nightmare—will be if there is another major nuclear accident in the world such as Chernobyl, Three Mile Island or Fukushima. Such accidents would be fairly reported in this country, and we might find ourselves in Germany’s position of turning against nuclear power. We would then have a half-built Hinkley Point, useless, having wasted literally billions of pounds on something that is unable to generate electricity because of public fear of nuclear power. We have these accidents about once every 10 or 15 years, and it is certain that there will be another in the future. Nuclear power is not the way forward; it is a technology whose time has gone.