The Green Party of England and Wales and the Green Party of Ireland are strongly opposing a UK government plan to build a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, an area in South West England that overlooks the Irish Sea. They are working hard to expose the economic and environmental risks of the plan, and hope that an EU scrutiny may still derail this socially and environmentally damaging project.
The parties have described the deal involving Chinese investment as a gambling with taxpayers’ money, because the state is offering to guarantee a level of return to foreign investors. At a time when the costs of renewable energy are rapidly falling, they say this is a ridiculously generous subsidy for an outdated industry.
Greens argue that instead of locking Britain into a costly and risky technology, the government should be investing in energy efficiency and renewables, the costs of which are rapidly decreasing. With potential profits being sent offshore to China and the nuclear pollution staying in the UK this power plant means there is a clear environmental impact. The Irish Greens are especially concerned. Another nuclear power plant on the English coast overlooking the Irish was hit with a series of leaks in the early 2000s, which caused the Irish government to complain to the Council of Europe. The Irish Greens are keen to avoid any more possible nuclear contamination. Ireland has no nuclear powerstations itself.
Greens are now looking to the EU, which they say may yet be able to block the deal. Since it involves such a large investment of public money the plan will be hopefully investigated under the EU's state aid rules. It is expected that the return guarantee will be seen by the Commission as a distortion of the electricity market and as such an infringement of state aid rules.
The European Commission has recently indicated it has no plans to encourage state aid for nuclear power or to make it easier for Member States to grant such aid. Greens from all across Europe welcomed the decision.