Ahead of Ed Davey’s visit to Scotland today, the SNP has called on the UK Energy Secretary to explain to people in Scotland why he is determined to push up their energy bills with his support for nuclear energy.
A report into the cost of living from consumer organisation Which? yesterday found that the cost of energy was one of the major pressures facing the 36 per cent of Scottish households that feel financially squeezed.
Prior to going into coalition with the Tories, Davey was against a new generation of nuclear power stations. He has previously stated that new nuclear “will cost taxpayers and consumers tens of billions of pounds” and that alternative energy supplies are “cleaner, safer, greener and better for the environment”.
Hinkley Point C in Somerset will be the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in a generation, and could be eligible for consumer funded payments of around £1bn per year – totalling around £35bn over the 35 year length of the contract. This is compared to the 15 year contracts being offered to renewable energy projects.
The European Commission has also warned that Hinkley C will push up consumer bills, stating the power station “could hardly be argued to contribute to affordability – at least at current prices, when it will instead and most likely contribute to an increase in retail prices”. The Commission’s warning was backed by the Delivering Renewable Energy Under Devolution report, published late last year, which found that the UK Government’s recent decisions on nuclear power could increase energy bills.
Commenting, SNP MSP Rob Gibson said:
“With Ed Davey visiting Scotland today, he should take the opportunity to explain to people here just why he wants them to pay through the nose for unnecessary new nuclear power stations.
“Mr Davey was right when he previously opposed a new generation of nuclear power stations – it is just a shame that he has not had the courage of his convictions and stuck by that position.”
Launching Lib Dem energy policy in July 2006, as Energy Spokesperson, Davey said: “A new generation of nuclear power stations will cost taxpayers and consumers tens of billions of pounds. Nuclear power will only be possible with vast taxpayer subsidies or a rigged market. The alternatives are cleaner, safer, greener and better for the environment and for the taxpayer.”
Mr Gibson added: “The fact of the matter is that new nuclear can only be delivered with eye-watering levels of subsidies and will push up the bills of energy customers.
“With people already struggling to make ends meet, the last thing they need is to be paying for Westminster’s nuclear vanity projects.
“While Ed Davey is happy to see bills rise, we will use the powers of an independent Scotland to bring in a permanent 5% cut in household energy bills – worth around £70 a year.
“That will have a positive and welcome impact on household budgets but is only possible with a Yes vote in September.”
On 18 December 2013, the European Commission stated that new nuclear costs will likely push up consumer bills, stating Hinkley C: “could hardly be argued to contribute to affordability – at least at current prices, when it will instead and most likely contribute to an increase in retail prices.”