Two energy giants have pulled out of plans to build a new nuclear power station at Oldbury, near Bristol, it emerged yesterday.
The decision by RWE npower and E.ON not to go ahead with developing nuclear stations at Oldbury and Wylfa in North Wales threatened thousands of potential jobs, undermined UK energy policy and left the government’s energy policy in disarray.
The two German-owned companies said they were looking for a new owner for their venture Horizon Nuclear Power in the light of the global economic crisis and Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power in response to the disaster at Fukushima following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last year, as well as the costs of the project.
Environmental groups celebrated the news and urged the government to press ahead with investment in renewable energy, which they said had the potential to create thousands of jobs, and supply clean, safe and affordable electricity.
But unions were dismayed, with Gary Smith, of the GMB union, saying: “This is a devastating blow which leaves the UK Government energy strategy in tatters.”
Last month, Oldbury nuclear power station was shut down for the last time. The world’s oldest running nuclear power station finally stopped generating electricity after 44 years in use.
In November 2009, Oldbury and Hinkley Point were named by the then Labour government as possible sites for new nuclear power stations. Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was then energy and climate secretary, announced a huge increase in atomic power generation for the UK in a bid to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from power generation.