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Expensive Hinkley Deal ‘Will Kill British Manufacturing’

Robin Pagnamenta, The Times

A leading industrialist has attacked the deal to build an £18 billion nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset as outrageously expensive and warned that it will kill British manufacturing.

Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of Ineos, a chemicals company that is one of the UK’s biggest electricity users, said that a subsidy deal agreed by ministers in 2013 to pay EDF treble the present wholesale price of electricity for 35 years will damage UK industry and investment.

“It’s just outrageously expensive,” he told The Times. “There is no way we are going to invest in the UK at £92.50 per megawatt hour… You finish up with the slow death of manufacturing.”

British wholesale power prices are about £33/MWh — a third of the guaranteed Hinkley price, which will be subsidised by consumers. UK prices are far higher than in rival manufacturing nations such as Germany where they are about £25/MWh.

Last night it emerged that Jean-Bernard Levy, chief executive of EDF, has threatened to pull the plug on the Hinkley project unless the company secures further financial support from the French government, which owns 85 per cent of EDF. In a letter to employees, he said that he was negotiating to “obtain commitments from the state to help secure our financial position”.

“It is clear that I will not engage in the project if these commitments are not met,” he wrote. The letter acknowledged the “tense” financial situation facing the group, which has debts of €37 billion.

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