Taxpayer will pay for Hinkley radioactive waste – Whitehall

Posted On: 
30th October 2016

The public will pick up the bill should the cost of storing radioactive waste from the Hinkley power plant rise above a government agreed cap, official documents have revealed.

Documents reveal a cap on the cost private investors are expected to meet in the event of an overspill.
PA Images

The Government promised to cap the costs of the clear up of radioactive waste in a bid to reassure EDF and Chinese investors behind the Hinkley Point C power plant.

The project was given the go-ahead after Theresa May initially called a pause on its development. 
Today's news, revealed in the Observer, has been seized upon by critics of the scheme to criticise the Government.

“The Government has attempted to keep the costs to the taxpayer of Hinkley under wraps from the start,” said Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace chief scientist.

“It’s hardly surprising as it doesn’t look good for the Government’s claim that they are trying to keep costs down for hardworking families.”

Earlier this month, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy released a “Nuclear Waste Transfer Pricing Methodology Notification Paper”.

It was in this paper that the Government mentioned the operator could not take on the financial cost of storing radioactive waste, as it would prevent them from securing funding for the project.

Instead the document explains there will be a “cap on the liability of the operator of the nuclear power station which would apply in a worst-case scenario”.

It adds: “The UK government accepts that, in setting a cap, the residual risk, of the very worst-case scenarios where actual cost might exceed the cap, is being borne by the government.”

Number 10 did not confirm the reports but sought to reassure the public those behind the nuclear power station would be “legally obliged” to pay for clearing up nuclear waste.

A government spokesman said: “All operators of new nuclear power stations in the UK are legally obliged to meet the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management and disposal costs. They will also pay the UK government to dispose of the waste produced at the end of a plant’s life.”