BBC: Professor Tom Burke is the chairman of the environmental think tank E3G, he joins me now in the studio, welcome to you. Where do you think this project is floundering?
Tom Burke: Well, as I listen to the President and the Prime Minister talk about how much confidence they had, I thought I was hearing something a bit similar to what someone says before they sack a minister. You’ve had the finance Director basically say, he thinks that EDF could spend their money on things that would be of more value to the company, clearly the markets think so too. Moody’s have already said that they would downgrade EDF’s credit rating if they went ahead with Hinkley. So what you are really seeing is major and significant questioning of the value of this project in economic terms. It has very little value in terms of climate change, of decarbonising the economy, it’s too late to do much, it’s too expensive, there are far better ways, if Britain wants to decarbonise its economy, there are cheaper and faster ways to do it that will reduce pressure on people’s bills.
BBC: Such as?
Tom Burke: Well, energy efficiency for a start, all of the things that were being reported this week by the National Infrastructure Commission that we want to do to decentralise our energy generating system, the use of more renewables, storage particularly when you see the cost of batteries falling through the floor. We are actually moving energy policy In the direction that is moving away from large projects of any kind, but particularly these gigantic projects like Hinkley.
BBC: Which of course area bit uncertain when it comes to how to fund them and how much they cost, but there is also a technology question here, isn’t there.
Tom Burke: Well, this is a technology that isn’t working anywhere, there are currently three nuclear power stations of this design being built around the world, all of them are over budget, all of them are late. So in effect the British government’s proposal has been to take a punt on an unproven technology, an £18 billion punt on an unproven technology, that’s brave.
BBC: Is it dead?
Tom Burke: I don’t think so yet, because I think the political embarrassment of saying that “this is a white elephant, we shouldn’t have done it”, is still sufficiently great. But I think it’s certainly on life support.
BBC: Professor Tom Burke, thank you very much.