Five questions answered on comments from Ineos boss that Hinkley power will be "expensive"

How much will energy from Hinkley cost?

The boss of manufacturers Ineos - one of the UK's biggest energy consumers - has warned that energy produced from the planned Hinkley Point C power station will be too expensive for business. We answer five questions on Ineos’s boss’s comments.

What exactly has Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe said?

Speaking to the BBC Ratcliffe said UK manufacturers would not find the price of energy from Hinkley affordable.

Mr Ratcliffe said: "The UK probably has the most expensive energy in the world."

"It is more expensive than Germany, it is more expensive than France, it is much, much, more expensive than America. It is not competitive at all, on the energy front, I am afraid."

How much will energy from Hinkley cost?

The government has signed a deal with France-based EdF to pay a guaranteed price of £92.50 per megawatt hour (Mwh) for 35 years. EdF is developing the station with the backing of Chinese investors.

Ineos owns the Grangemouth power plant in Scotland and has recently agreed a deal for nuclear power in France at 45 euros (£37.94) per Mwh. However, the world nuclear association pointed out this deal was for an unknown duration whereas the government’s deal with EdF is for 35 years.

What have other experts said?

The World Nuclear Association told the BBC: "It should be pointed out that France has the highest proportion of nuclear in its generation mix and lower than average EU power prices, so there is nothing automatically expensive about nuclear power.”

In October John Cridland, director-general of business lobby group the CBI, speaking to the BBC said:

"It's important to remember this investment will help mitigate the impact of increasing costs. The fact is whatever we do, energy prices are going to have to go up to replace ageing infrastructure and meet climate change targets - unless we build new nuclear as part of a diverse energy mix."

However, Dr Paul Dorfman, from the Energy Institute at University College London, added: "what it equates to actually is a subsidy and the coalition said they would never subsidise nuclear".

How much energy will Hinkley provide when it is up and running?

Once developed Hinkley will provide 7 per cent of the UK’s energy mix. It will cost £16 billion to build and is expected to be ready by 2023.

How is Ineos currently doing, wasn’t it going to close a short while ago?

Yes, the company had announced in October the permanent closure of the Grangemouth plant in Scotland, which would have affected 800 jobs. However, when a bitter dispute between Ineos and the unions was called off it was announced that the plant would stay open.

However, Ratcliffe has said that Ineos, which will be the first company to import shale gas from the UK, was on a “knife edge” since that troublesome time.

He told the BBC: "I think Grangemouth has the prospect of a very good future if it can get through the next three years."

"Attitude on the site is much more positive and you can see people are really anxious to move on."

Grangemouth provides 70 per cent of the fuel used at Scotland's filling stations.

Chairman of INEOS, Jim Ratcliffe. Photograph: Getty Images.

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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On civil liberties, David Davis has become a complete hypocrite – and I'm not sure he even knows it

The Brexit minster's stance shows a man not overly burdened with self-awareness.

In 2005, David Davis ran for the Tory leadership. He was widely assumed to be the front-runner and, as frontrunners in Tory leadership campaigns have done so enthusiastically throughout modern history, he lost.

The reason I bring up this ancient history is because it gives me an excuse to remind you of this spectacularly ill-judged photoshoot:


“And you're sure this doesn't make me look a bit sexist?”
Image: Getty

Obviously it’s distressing to learn that, as recently as October 2005, an ostensibly serious politician could have thought that drawing attention to someone else’s boobs was a viable electoral strategy. (Going, one assumes, for that all important teenage boy vote.)

But what really strikes me about that photo is quite how pleased with himself Davis looks. Not only is he not thinking to himself, “Is it possible that this whole thing was a bad idea?” You get the distinct impression that he’s never had that thought in his life.

This impression is not dispelled by the interview he gave to the Telegraph‘s Alice Thompson and Rachel Sylvester three months earlier. (Hat tip to Tom Hamilton for bringing it to my attention.) It’s an amazing piece of work – I’ve read it twice, and I’m still not sure if the interviewers are in on the joke – so worth reading in its entirety. But to give you a flavour, here are some highlights:

He has a climbing wall in his barn and an ice-axe leaning against his desk. Next to a drinks tray in his office there is a picture of him jumping out of a helicopter. Although his nose has been broken five times, he still somehow manages to look debonair. (...)

To an aide, he shouts: “Call X - he’ll be at MI5,” then tells us: “You didn’t hear that. I know lots of spooks.” (...)

At 56, he comes – as he puts it – from “an older generation”. He did not change nappies, opting instead to teach his children to ski and scuba-dive to make them brave. (...)

“I make all the important decisions about World War Three, she makes the unimportant ones about where we’re going to live.”

And my personal favourite:

When he was demoted by IDS, he hit back, saying darkly: “If you’re hunting big game, you must make sure you kill with the first shot.”

All this, I think, tells us two things. One is that David Davis is not a man who is overly burdened with self-doubt. The other is that he probably should be once in a while, because bloody hell, he looks ridiculous, and it’s clear no one around him has the heart to tell him.

Which brings us to this week’s mess. On Monday, we learned that those EU citizens who choose to remain in Britain will need to apply for a listing on a new – this is in no way creepy – “settled status” register. The proposals, as reported the Guardian, “could entail an identity card backed up by entry on a Home Office central database or register”. As Brexit secretary, David Davis is the man tasked with negotiating and delivering this exciting new list of the foreign.

This is odd, because Davis has historically been a resolute opponent of this sort of nonsense. Back in June 2008, he resigned from the Tory front bench and forced a by-election in his Haltemprice & Howden constituency, in protest against the Labour government’s creeping authoritarianism.

Three months later, when Labour was pushing ID cards of its own, he warned that the party was creating a database state. Here’s the killer quote:

“It is typical of this government to kickstart their misguided and intrusive ID scheme with students and foreigners – those who have no choice but to accept the cards – and it marks the start of the introduction of compulsory ID cards for all by stealth.”

The David Davis of 2017 better hope that the David Davis of 2008 doesn’t find out what he’s up to, otherwise he’s really for it.

The Brexit secretary has denied, of course, that the government’s plan this week has anything in common with the Labour version he so despised. “It’s not an ID card,” he told the Commons. “What we are talking about here is documentation to prove you have got a right to a job, a right to residence, the rest of it.” To put it another way, this new scheme involves neither an ID card nor the rise of a database state. It’s simply a card, which proves your identity, as registered on a database. Maintained by the state.

Does he realise what he’s doing? Does the man who once quit the front bench to defend the principle of civil liberties not see that he’s now become what he hates the most? That if he continues with this policy – a seemingly inevitable result of the Brexit for which he so enthusiastically campaigned – then he’ll go down in history not as a campaigner for civil liberties, but as a bloody hypocrite?

I doubt he does, somehow. Remember that photoshoot; remember the interview. With any other politician, I’d assume a certain degree of inner turmoil must be underway. But Davis does not strike me as one who is overly prone to that, either.

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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