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ENV-5002B
Environmental Politics and Policy Making
A political overview of Nuclear Energy at Hinkley Point C with regards
...
100088877 2 13/04/2016
Contents
1. Introduction..............................................................................
100088877 3 13/04/2016
1. Introduction
Hinkley Point, located in the south-west of England in Somerset, is the subject of ...
100088877 4 13/04/2016
2. Background Information
Nuclear energy at Hinkley Point C is a current matter, but the process ha...
100088877 5 13/04/2016
3. Who are the key players and their views?
3a. EDF Energy
EDF Energy have a 66.5% majority stake i...
100088877 6 13/04/2016
jobs” are all concerns which the council raised in a report to the Infrastructure Planning Commissi...
100088877 7 13/04/2016
4. Lukes’ Theories of Power
‘A Radical View’ written by Lukes’ (1974) is a book which has provided ...
100088877 8 13/04/2016
4b. Second Dimension of Power
Following on from the critique of the first dimension of power, the s...
100088877 9 13/04/2016
5. Application of Theory
By using Lukes’ theories of power, it helps to provide a tool of analysis ...
100088877 10 13/04/2016
EDF has a 66.5% stake in the project and is playing a key part in the construction, development an...
100088877 11 13/04/2016
6. Conclusion
Hinkley Point C is arguably the most controversial infrastructure projects in histor...
100088877 12 13/04/2016
7. References
BBC (2010) Differing views on Hinkley point C. Available at:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/l...
100088877 13 13/04/2016
EDF Energy (2016) Hinkley point C: Timeline. Available at:
https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/nuclea...
100088877 14 13/04/2016
McQue, K. and Macalister, T. (2014) Conflict of interest concerns over EDF’s Hinkley nuclear
proje...
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A political overview of Nuclear Energy at Hinkley Point C with regards to Lukes

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A political overview of Nuclear Energy at Hinkley Point C with regards to Lukes

  1. 1. ENV-5002B Environmental Politics and Policy Making A political overview of Nuclear Energy at Hinkley Point C with regards to Lukes’ Theories of Power Student Number: 100088877 Word Count: 4183
  2. 2. 100088877 2 13/04/2016 Contents 1. Introduction.........................................................................................................................................3 2. Background Information.................................................................................................................4 2a. Timeline of Events ....................................................................................................................4 3. Who are the key players and their views?.......................................................................................5 3a. EDF Energy...............................................................................................................................5 3b. Stop Hinkley .............................................................................................................................5 3c. Sedgemoor District Council......................................................................................................5 3d. UK Government and MP’s .......................................................................................................6 3e. Media.........................................................................................................................................6 4. Lukes’ Theories of Power...............................................................................................................7 4a. First Dimension of Power .........................................................................................................7 4b. Second Dimension of Power.....................................................................................................8 4c. Third Dimension of Power........................................................................................................8 5. Application of Theory.....................................................................................................................9 5a. The First Dimensional View and HPC......................................................................................9 5b. The Second Dimensional View and HPC.................................................................................9 5c. The Third Dimensional View and HPC ..................................................................................10 6. Conclusion ....................................................................................................................................11 7. References.....................................................................................................................................12
  3. 3. 100088877 3 13/04/2016 1. Introduction Hinkley Point, located in the south-west of England in Somerset, is the subject of another nuclear power plant construction, labelled as ‘Hinkley Point C’. The UK Government, under Gordon Brown, stated that “it is in the public interest that new nuclear power stations should have a role to play in this country’s future energy mix alongside other low-carbon sources” (HM Government and BERR, 2008:10). The Coalition Government in 2013 also stated how nuclear power can make “ a significant contribution to secure, low carbon generation, now and through a successful Generation III programme built over the next two decades” (DECC, 2013:4). It is clear therefore that nuclear energy is at the forefront of future UK energy supply, with Hinkley Point C being the beginning of the Generation III programme. However, there is still huge opposition to this source of energy and to Hinkley Point C due to cost, safety, health, waste and renewable energy, which many stakeholders are highlighting. This case study will therefore examine the distribution of power, with regards to Lukes’ dimensions of power, in the development of Hinkley Point C, and how each different stakeholder has influenced the process and ultimately led to construction beginning.
  4. 4. 100088877 4 13/04/2016 2. Background Information Nuclear energy at Hinkley Point C is a current matter, but the process has been going on for nearly a decade. Section 2 and 3 will provide the viewer with the key information regarding the development of a nuclear power station at HPC, and what stakeholders are involved in this process, along with how they are influencing the situation. Figure 1 helps to illustrate the key moments in the development of a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C so far. 2a. Timeline of Events Figure 1 – Timeline of key events with regards to the development of a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C (EDF, 2016; Brown, 2016; Zabell, 2015). May 2016 - A decision by EDF is expected to be made in May regarding the situation with Hinkley Point C , whether to press ahead with construction or abandon the project March 2016 - EDF's finance director, Thomas Piquemal, resigned as he feared the project could jeopardise EDF's financial position, due to escalating costs of the HPC project January 2016 - EDF delays its final investment decision again and is looking for new investment partners, as it is unable to raise the funds for its 66.5% stake in the project October 2015 - China agrees to take a 1/3 stake in the £18 billion project September 2015 - The UK Government pledges £2 billion to support the project October 2014 - The European Commission approves the Hinkley Point Project and gives the go ahead to state subsidy scheme May 2014 - The second phase of construction work begins at the site October 2013 - Strike Price deal is made between British Government and EDF of £92.50 p/MWh agreed for Hinkley Point C for 2023, nearly three times the current price March 2013 - Planning permission granted for two reactors to be built at Hinkley Point C March 2012 - Anti-nuclear protestors complete a 24-hour blockade of the entrance to Hinkley Point nuclear power station to mark the first anniversary of the disaster at the Fukushima power station in Japan February 2012 - Initial prepartory work begins at the Somerset site March 2009 - Hinkley Point C nominated as potential site for new nuclear power station 2008 - UK Government White Paper published emphasising the importance nuclear energy has to play in future UK energy supply
  5. 5. 100088877 5 13/04/2016 3. Who are the key players and their views? 3a. EDF Energy EDF Energy have a 66.5% majority stake in the Hinkley Point C project, and are the company which are in charge of constructing the nuclear power station. The twin UK EPR’s which are being built will be able to produce 3.2 GW of energy for 60 years, generating 6% of the UK’s electricity on a low carbon basis. During construction, up to 5,600 jobs will be created at peak whilst 900 permanent jobs will be created once completed. EDF have also stated that £100 million per annum will trickle down into the local economy during construction, with £40 million per annum trickling down into the local economic during operation. From EDF Energy’s perspective, Hinkley Point C will have huge benefits for the local area along with the whole country by supplying a huge amount of energy (George, 2013; EDF Energy, 2015). 3b. Stop Hinkley Stop Hinkley formed in the mid-eighties to stop a pressurised water reactor being built, known as Hinkley C. Since then, they have remained committed to campaigning against nuclear power. Stop Hinkley argue that nuclear power is neither safe nor low-carbon, whilst also being a security risk with nuclear power also being used for nuclear weapons. They also state how currently, there is no viable or appropriate storage method for waste fuel. Jonathon Porritt, an environmental campaigner working with Stop Hinkley, stated how “it’s completely immoral to pass on to future generations a problem like nuclear waste that we don’t know how to deal with” (Stop Hinkley, 2016; BBC, 2010). 3c. Sedgemoor District Council The main viewpoint shared by this stakeholder is that nuclear waste storage is a huge risk, and that EDF should be doing all they can to create new and safe storage facilities for waste fuel. “A decline in tourism, a loss in quality of life and house price increases due to extra demand from newly created Different stakeholders views on Hinkley Point C EDF Energy •Pro-nuclear •Main company in charge of investing and organising the construction of the two EPR's. •Has a 66.5% stake in the project. Sedgemoor District Council •Pro-nuclear •Despite highlighting the risks which HPC will create, the council believes that the economic growth and job creation to the local economy outweighs the risks. UK Government and MP's •Pro/anti-nuclear •Several MP's, high up in the Government, including George Osborne and David Cameron are both backing the project and supporting it with public declarations and £2 billion. •Many other MP's, including Caroline Lucas, Molly Scott Cato and other political figures like Boris Johnson have all declared their outrage at the ridiculous project. Stop Hinkley •Anti-nuclear •Campaign movement against nuclear generation in the UK since the 1980's, and since has publicly opposed nuclear power due to the safety risks, cost and seeing renewable energy as a better alternative. Media •Anti-nuclear •Since 2015, the large majority of media outlets have portrayed the project as a waste of money and stated how they believe the deal should be scrapped and that we should look for better alternatives. •The Financial Times, the Guardian, the Daily Express, Sunday Times and several other media outlets have expressed their disapproval. Figure 2 – An overview of the key stakeholders and their views regarding Hinkley Point C (Stop Hinkley; Cato, 2016; EDF Energy; HM Treasury; Clark; Carrington; Fortson; Fairlie, 2015; SDC, 2014; George; Harris, 2013; BBC, 2010)
  6. 6. 100088877 6 13/04/2016 jobs” are all concerns which the council raised in a report to the Infrastructure Planning Commission in 2012 (BBC, 2012; 2010). The Sedgemoor district council were also part of the ‘Hinkley Deal’ for the local area. As a result of their work and perspective regarding nuclear energy, £130.3 million will be distributed across business support, skills, employability, inward investment, housing and transport for the local area from the Government. This is also occurring as the council feel that they should build upon the opportunities opened up by Hinkley C, therefore indicating that they are in support of the decision to have a nuclear power station in their region, whilst being aware of the risks it poses. (SDC, 2014). 3d. UK Government and MP’s The UK government’s stance on the matter is clear. In a DECC news article (2016), the government states five reasons for backing the Hinkley Point C project. Safety, carbon emission reductions, the only low carbon technology available, economic growth and the cost of electricity are all reasons used by the government to justify the project. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has been very supportive of the project and in September 2015, pledged £2 billion to support the project during its construction phase (HM Treasury, 2015). Caroline Lucas MP and Molly Scott Cato MEP are just two politicians in the UK who have made their dissatisfaction regarding Hinkley Point C very well known. The former has stated that “the only two nuclear power stations under construction in Europe today are billions of pounds over budget and facing increasing delays”, whilst the latter has been urging the deal to be pulled and instead, look to a plan B focusing on renewables (Cato, 2016; Harris, 2013). 3e. Media The media plays a key role in influencing people’s opinions and decisions on certain matters due to the way issues are presented in the news. With regards to Hinkley Point C, the media has been very accurate when reporting the key details from developments in the project to keep the public informed, but many articles and news stories have in large-part, been against the nuclear power station being constructed at Hinkley Point C. For example, the Sunday Times stated how “perhaps unsurprisingly, a growing chorus of critics are calling for the unthinkable: to bin Hinkley Point altogether” (Fortson, 2015). The Daily Express also expressed their concerns over Hinkley Point C, stating that “far better would be to drop the act and have a more reasoned energy policy like other countries do”, whilst the Guardian has stated that the project is “a colossal waste of time and money, risking security, affordability and the climate, ministers should swallow their pride and ditch it” (Clark, 2015; Carrington, 2015). Other news outlets such as The Economist, The Telegraph and The Times also share the view that this delayed project is too costly and that the Government should give up on the deal now (Fairlie, 2015). It is clear therefore that the large majority of UK media outlets oppose the development of a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, and this view shared by these outlets could influence public perceptions on the project, which could in turn lead to protests and larger campaigns against the development of a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C.
  7. 7. 100088877 7 13/04/2016 4. Lukes’ Theories of Power ‘A Radical View’ written by Lukes’ (1974) is a book which has provided a clear yet mind-opening view into the different dimensions of power which are used within every day society, but especially within politics and government. This section will look at providing a clear overview of the different dimensions, what they are and how they work and table 1 helps to illustrate this. 4a. First Dimension of Power The first dimension of power is possibly the easiest to understand. Dahl and fellow political scientists during the 1960’s helped to influence the view of pluralism, but their views produced elitist conclusions, whereas with Lukes’ one dimensional power, his theory is independent of pluralist conclusions (Lukes, 2005). Dahl (1957: 204) states how pluralism “involves a successful attempt by A to get α to do something he would not otherwise do.” Therefore, with the first dimension of power, we can assume that this theory of power involves someone having power over someone else due to the resources they bolster. Lukes’ (2005: 19) sums up the first dimension of power as follows: Thus I conclude that this first, one-dimensional, view of power involves a focus on behaviour in the making of decisions on issues over which there is an observable conflict of (subjective) interests, seen as express policy preferences, revealed by political participation. However, it should be noted that there are problems with this dimension of power. For example, Barach and Baratz (1970: 948) discuss how this view neglects the non-decisions which are made: To the extent that A succeeds in doing this, B is prevented, for all practical purposes, from bringing to the fore any issues that might in their resolution be seriously detrimental to A’s set of preferences? 1st Dimension of Power 2nd Dimension of Power 3rd Dimension of Power Mechanism Decision-making Agenda setting Thought control Titles Pluralism Neo-pluralism Structuralism Focus Real decisions Non decision of potential issues Real vs perceived interests View of Power Widely spread Unequally spread Very unequally spread View of the Political Narrow Broad Very broad Outcomes Unpredictable Predictable Pre-ordained Evaluation Assumes participation in policies is the defining feature of power and excludes non-decision making. No ability to account for a non- decision. Hard to actually see this dimension of power due to its nature. Table 1 – An overview of the dimensions of power (adapted from Lukes, 2005; 1974) Figure 3 – A model of agenda control and the first dimension of power (Parsons, 1995: 138)
  8. 8. 100088877 8 13/04/2016 4b. Second Dimension of Power Following on from the critique of the first dimension of power, the second dimension of power is related to the non-decisions which are made within politics, to control and aid the agenda being pursued. Lukes (1974: 21) states how the second dimension of power is to do with “the control over the agenda of politics and the ways in which potential issues are kept out of the political process.” Issues are kept out of the agenda due to different agendas from those high up within politics and possibly influenced by the elitist population, whilst this form of conflict can be overt or covert, depending on the nature of the issue in question (Barach and Baratz, 1970). Issues which are filtered in and out of the agenda is known as the ‘mobilization of bias’. However, despite its improvements from the first dimension of power, the second dimension of power has its critiques. For example, this dimension of power also focuses too much on actual behaviour and avoids how status quo defenders may use their power to affect other actors within the system. Another problem with this dimension is that it also allows for no accountability when non-decisions are made (Lukes, 2005). 4c. Third Dimension of Power The third dimension looks at decision making and control over the political agenda whether through concrete or non-decisions. It also focuses on observable and latent conflicts, with latent conflicts being those where there is a contradiction between the interests of A whilst the real interests of B are excluded (Lorenzi, 2006). The media is perceived as a tool which can be used to influence the interests of the public, through the way information is presented. Lukes’ (2005: 27) discusses how A exercises power over B in this dimension and how this power is the most effective: To put the matter sharply, A may exercise power over B by getting him to do what he does not want to do, but he also exercises power over him by influencing, shaping or determining his very wants. Despite the improvements over the second dimension, there are still problems with the third dimension. Issues with this view of power is that you can’t see or study the third dimension in action, whether that be by the alleged exercising power or through the way B may have thought or acted differently. As a result, power is viewed depending upon how we conceive it but if we are to truly understand power, accountability for the flow of action or inaction of different actors must be changed (Lorenzi, 2006).
  9. 9. 100088877 9 13/04/2016 5. Application of Theory By using Lukes’ theories of power, it helps to provide a tool of analysis for the key actors and how certain issues and agreements have occurred with regards to the Hinkley Point C project and the roles which they have played in shaping the development of this environmental issue. 5a. The First Dimensional View and HPC Observable conflicts of interests, which is one of the basic premises of the first dimension, can be seen throughout the development of the nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C. This form of power can be first viewed right at the very start of the process, when the UK Government was undergoing the consultation process for HPC. Greenpeace won a High Court ruling regarding biased publication and presentation of information in the first public consultation and made complaints regarding the second public consultation as information was heavily unbalanced and people felt they were being manipulated (Greenpeace, 2008). As a result, the polls which took place asking people questions around the country made it look like the public was more in favour of the government moving towards the development of a new generation of nuclear power stations, with Hinkley Point C being the flagship for the fleet to follow. However, the Department for Business, Entrepreneurship and Regulatory Reform have denied several requests on behalf of Greenpeace to release information on government correspondents and how they may have influenced the consultation process. If they were too release the documents, it could have made the case for nuclear power at Hinkley Point C being written off due to the biased nature of the consultation process coming to light. Therefore, DBERR refused to hand over the documents as doing so would go against their own interests and is therefore the first case of the first dimensional view of power being used within the development process of HPC (ibid). 5b. The Second Dimensional View and HPC With regards to the second dimensional view of power, agenda setting and non-decision making are the primary characteristics of this face of power. In comparison to the first dimension, there are more examples of the second dimension and non-decisions being made than concrete decisions due to the sensitive nature of the matter as having public backing for the project is vital to the development of HPC and making controversial concrete decisions may change public perceptions. The first example of the second dimension of power being used starts with the Sedgemoor District Council. They sent a report to the Infrastructure Planning Commission in 2012 outlining the issues and problems which could arise due to the HPC project which included house prices declining, increased air pollution and congestion problems, reduced quality of life and environmental issues such as nuclear waste storage and water contamination (BBC, 2012). Despite this report highlighting significant issues, the council never received any response from the IPC or the Government to quash any concerns. This is clearly an example of the second power being used as the IPC and Government have decided not to respond and bring the issues back into the media, in order to avoid further public scrutiny regarding the issues and problems which this project is creating. Another significant example of the second dimensional view being used with this issue is with reference to the Office for Nuclear Regulation. They are responsible for carrying out safety reviews and other tasks relating to nuclear energy in the UK. However, with Hinkley Point C, a thorough safety review wasn’t carried out. “The ONR bypassed a number of safety issues with the rationale of although it is not solved we think it will be solved by the time we need,” highlighting new issues with the project (McQue and Macalister, 2014). Further information regarding the experts who carried out the lacklustre safety review found that they were receiving EDF pensions, instigating possible corruption allegations. However, despite these issues coming to light, the UK government chose to ignore them and made no decision regarding the matter, as all the Government was interested in was having the safety check completed so that further construction could occur.
  10. 10. 100088877 10 13/04/2016 EDF has a 66.5% stake in the project and is playing a key part in the construction, development and investment of Hinkley Point C. With the project now being over-budget, concerns are being raised which EDF is avoiding answering. In January 2016, the firm’s board was expected to meet to finalise a decision, as to whether the project would go ahead with EDF backing the project with significant investment or whether it would be scrapped due to it being over-budget and over-due. However, the board didn’t meet and no decision has been made. Another meeting is expected in May but could be put on hold again (BBC, 2016; Brown, 2016; Zabell, 2015). The second dimension of power can be applied to this example as EDF has made a non-decision, as to make a decision regarding the matter could lead to the project being scrapped but if no decision is made, they give themselves more time to acquire investments and complete the project. It should be noted that the Strike Price deal for electricity paid to EDF by the UK Government stands at £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity which is double the current cost. This therefore shows that EDF will make a significant amount of money from generating electricity at HPC, should the project be completed. 5c. The Third Dimensional View and HPC This dimension of power relates to controlling your thoughts and interests through different means such as the media, culture and other social influences. The media is a useful tool for shaping the publics interests and has been doing so with HPC. Since 2015, the large majority of media outlets have portrayed Hinkley Point C as being a waste of money and that the project should be scrapped. What was said? Who said it? Media outlet? Date “Hinkley: a truly major national scandal … as absurd a project as any government has ever fallen for.” Christopher Booker Telegraph 26th September 2015 “It is the costliest white elephant in history.” Simon Jenkins Guardian 23rd September 2015 “Hinkley is not just poor value for money – it’s an outrage.” Editorial Daily Express 21st September 2015 “A growing chorus of critics are calling for the unthinkable: to bin Hinkley Point altogether.” Editorial Sunday Times 21st June 2015 “Politically painful it may be, but the case for halting Hinkley Point C is becoming hard to refute.” Editorial Financial Times 18th February 2016 Table 2 helps to illustrate this point and shows that this portrayal of HPC can lead to different opinions and greater public backlash forming as a result. With more public scrutiny, hard political decisions follow. Another example of the third dimension of power being used is with regards to the Secretary of State. Edward Davey in 2013 authorised the construction of HPC, publicly supporting the project in an attempt to show the general public that as he is supporting HPC, the projects benefits must outweigh the negatives. This public decision may have helped to influence people’s perceptions regarding the project at the time, and therefore create greater public backing for the scheme (DECC, 2013). Table 2 – Headlines and quotes taken from several media outlets, raising their concerns with the Hinkley Point C project (Financial Times, 2016; Fortson; Clark; Jenkins; Fairlie; Booker, 2015)
  11. 11. 100088877 11 13/04/2016 6. Conclusion Hinkley Point C is arguably the most controversial infrastructure projects in history due to its extreme cost and time delay, and the decision as to whether it will go ahead is still pending. This case study has tried to use Lukes’ dimensions of power to try and understand what has happened along the process and why. The different dimensions of power refer to the processes of decision making, agenda setting and thought control and examples of all are apparent throughout the development of Hinkley Point C. It is clear that throughout the process, the second dimension of power has been the most apparent and influential in the matter. Many issues regarding the project have been raised, including issues related to nuclear waste storage, water contamination, quality of life locally and more. Safety reviews were also not properly carried out, in order to achieve deadlines, whilst the final decision regarding the continued development of HPC by EDF is still being decided. All these matters have been ignored and filtered out from political debate, in order to try and keep the development of HPC going. Therefore, I believe the second dimension of power is the most influential dimension but all three help to show the formation of different power structures, with regards to the biased consultation process and the media’s negative portrayal of the project. My opinion regarding the matter is that for the amount of money that is being spent, why wasn’t a cleaner source of energy such as wind or solar invested into to generate future energy supply? Nuclear energy may be the short term solution to our energy problems, but renewable energy is the future. The Hinkley Point C project should be scrapped.
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