The government plans to waste £40bn of taxpayer money on sucking up to China

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The government is planning to waste tens of billions on the Hinkley C power plant nuclear deal with China.

The Intergenerational Foundation think tank has calculated that we could generate the same amount of power from renewable alternatives for the entire lifespan of Hinkley Point, for up to £40bn cheaper.

To further illustrate the archaic lunacy of this deal, Apple will have been producing solar-charged electric vehicles for three years by the time the plant is constructed.

Renewable alternatives seem like a no-brainer, particularly in this case. The construction of the Hinkley plant will benefit neither the British state, nor British business but the states of France and China. China’s state-owned CGN have snapped up a 1/3 stake in Hinkley, with France’s mainly state-owned EDF taking the rest. It seems the Tories have no problem with nationalisation, as long as it is foreign states owning our infrastructure and not Britain.

An alternate investment in renewables would save billions and create thousands of green collar British jobs. The think tank found that onshore wind farms would cost £31bn less than the nuclear plant. Meanwhile, solar photovoltaic power would cost £39.9bn less, taking into account building costs and taxpayer subsidies.

Andrew Simms, one of the report’s co-authors, damned the Conservative’s plans:

The government’s current plans for new nuclear power will break spending records, and pass both high costs and large, unknown economic risks onto every UK child for generations to come.

Read on...

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According to The Mirror, Hinkley Point will add “£17 billion to the deficit and impose £2 billion a year on household bills”. George Osborne has already added £555bn to the national debt since becoming Chancellor, and missed two of his own arbitrary deficit targets.

This deficit spike will only lead to the taxpayer losing out on a further £40bn which could have been saved through renewable energy.

Simms continued:

But, readily available, cheaper, safer and quicker renewable energy options would help Britain live both within its economic and environmental means, while also protecting and providing for future generations.

Renewable alternatives make economic and environmental sense for both short and long-term British interest.

China and the ‘Osborne doctrine’

According to The BBC, David Cameron has let Osborne steer the cabinet towards his own ambition to make China the UK’s second largest trading partner by the end of the decade. The Beeb’s China editor writes:

Mr Osborne insists that this is a golden moment, where the interests of the UK and China align.

Apparently Osborne thinks the loss of £40bn of taxpayer money and the flogging off of key pieces of infrastructure is a ‘golden moment’. The Telegraph chimes:

It is hard to pin down the exact moment when George Osborne’s love affair with China turned into a Faustian Pact.

The Conservatives have also been blocking EU efforts to stop Chinese steel dumping for the past three years. This has contributed to the loss of over 15,000 UK jobs, because Europe cannot complete with the low prices. Yet a Brussels official said:

The British are sacrificing an entire European industry to say thank you to China for signing up to the nuclear power project at Hinkley Point, and pretending it is about free trade.

The government are sacrificing our steel industry, along with others in the EU, in order to say thank you for a plan that will lose us a further £40bn.

Not to mention the argument that Britain does not want to support, and therefore be complicit in, the systemic human rights abuses carried out by the authoritarian Chinese government.

British incentive for these sweetheart deals with China is running thin. Perhaps the Conservatives’ motives lie in their desire to cosy up to the newly created Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), despite frowns from the White House. This investment bank differs from the World Bank as it puts China at the foreground rather than the US. Maybe Osborne wants to revitalise his so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’ through Chinese investment.

It appears Osborne’s desire to forge a ‘special relationship’ with China is so strong he is casting aside:

1 The steel industries of both Britain and the EU.

2 The economic and environmental stability of generations to come (after Osborne claimed, only a couple of weeks ago, “we choose to put the next generation first”)

3 His own deficit reduction targets.

4 Thousands of British green collar jobs.

5 £40bn of British taxpayer money.

Not only will investment in renewables create jobs and clean energy but, in this case, it will save Britain £40bn. It would also offset the downsides of nuclear, such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons and waste.

If Osborne wasn’t ideologically cemented to his grand China plans, while simultaneously placing his head in the sand when it comes to renewable energy, perhaps we would not be on course to shoot ourselves in both feet with the Hinkley Point deal. With bulletholes in both feet, and as Simms says, the nation’s stability for future generations will be in serious jeopardy.

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Featured image via Day Donaldson.

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