back to article Blighty's nuke-power push stalled as EDF buy falls through

The British government plan to build a new generation of nuclear power stations is on hold, after French energy giant EDF's bid to buy the UK's existing nuke base was rejected at the last moment. Reports have it that the deal fell through after existing shareholders in British Energy - thought to be large UK pension funds - …


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  1. Gordon Pryra

    As usual, financial greed fucks up the world

    Hopefully in 100 years time, the human race will have matured a bit more (or actually acknowledge the issues) and get rid of this form of parasite.

    Stocks, shares, funds. All skimming of the top of society, screwing the economy and funneling resources into their own pockets.

    Burn them, kill their children and drown their parents

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    British Energy isn't worth £12bn

    What EDF want are a few hundred acres upon which to build new plant. There is no reason for them to acquire our legacy infrastructure in order to build next to it. The UK government want the new plant built more than they want money for the land adjacent existing plant. I expect EDF will gain access to the land within the next 18 months without handing over anything like £12bn and not taking on future British energy liabilities. The tax payer will be left with them.

  3. uk086242

    Improved Headline?

    Talks Meltdown over Nuke Power?

  4. Piloti

    The French Pull th plug....

    .... am I the only one who thinks NOT letting the French run our nuclear power stations is a good idea ?

    I don't want to go down the 'lamb route', but really...... letting somebody else run your future power supply is madness, letting our gallic cousins is the worst nightmare.


  5. amanfromMars Silver badge

    For the Idiot's Love of Money ......they bring down the Banking System.

    "“There was a last-minute hitch ... Two UK pension funds – big shareholders – requested EDF put more money on the table, and EDF refused. So British Energy turned the offer down."

    Which two UK pension funds/Sub-Prime Movers and Shake Down Con Artists were these, please? Don't be coy, for they deserve their fifteen minutes of fame/infamy. And let's be 'avin' some Individual's names so that pension funds don't suffer the blame and shame.

    Anybody else think that the Western Capitalist System is in a Death Spiral ...with the East healthily poised to replace it wholesale, and take Control?

  6. John Chadwick

    Is it just me?

    Does the fact that a French state organisation owning the British Nuclear resources worry anybody, just a bit.

    I'm not sure I like the idea of subsidising the French tax payer through my electricity bill!

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Cheap lulz

    "letting somebody else run your future power supply is madness"

    Oh wow, man, did you just step out of that time machine that Babbage built in his spare time in the basement or something? Note that you don't even own Uranium mines...

    We need a "free market" icon here. Paris will do.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Piloti & John Chadwick

    Well, train your own engineers and develop your industry then! The reason the French nuclear industry is the most advanced and safe in the world is because we invested enormous amounts of money in it, and now we are reaping the benefits. So I'd rather have EDF run nuclear power stations here (I'm a frog living in the UK, not connected with the energy industry) rather than the US, as if it goes bang France is close by so they'll be careful.

    Otherwise, I'm sure the Russians/Chinese/Indian are cheaper, but then I don't trust them with internet support, let alone nukes!

    We need a mushroom cloud and/or frog icon!

  9. Dangermouse


    Succinctly put.

    (for once!)

  10. Pete James

    Thank God I'm going on holiday tonight

    So a French, state-owned organisation tries to buy a British, part-state owned organisation.

    I thought state-owned companies were supposed to be broken apart under EU rules? Oh, silly me, this a French organisation and they're exempt from all rules as per sodding usual.


    Why do you think it so bad that a pension company, who are responsible for getting the most money possible for it's members, should ask for more cash? Or are you annoyed because you don't have a pension with either of them and begrudge their attempt to get more cash?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I poke fun at the French

    As much as anyone, but them runing our power stations dose not worry me at all, and how is the money going to the French tax payers worse than going to the share holders? At least it is going to help other people, not just line the nests of a few pension fund managers.

    I think of the French more like our siblings. We may not get on with them, and we may not agree with them on alot of things, but we can trust them totaly with the big things.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    EDF would like to think it's them that said 'Non' - however, it's British Energy who have said 'au-revoir'.

    Has anyone seen how badly EDF have been running their nuclear sites recently? A bit of French management's laissez-faire attitude going awry due to at least two incidents in the last couple of weeks.

    Do we really want them running our sites too? SLightly risky methinks...

    We should invest in building more sites with the extra tax the chancellor's raking in from the increased VAT on our fuel at the moment along with the other economical raping going on in tax levies.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Yes it's just you!!

    We haven't built a new Nuclear power plant for years.

    The French have been doing it for the last 20.

    I know who I'd rather have building and running our Nuclear power plants.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Stand up

    all the people whinging about foreign companies owning our utilities that voted for Margaret Thatcher.

  15. Dangermouse

    @Pete James

    I suspect that Mr Mars is aware that the infrastructure in this country is in such a crap state of affairs that for once one would hope that UK Pension Funds would behave a little more ethically and put the needs of the country and its people before a little more revenue.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    Hopefully, this will kill British nuclear (fission) plans and lead to a sudden outbreak of common sense. Sadly, I doubt it, but there's always hope.

    1) I'd prefer the UK to own it's own essential services,

    2) EDF have shown themselves to be monumentally incompetent when it comes to safety.

    3) Building fission reactors is pointless - we haven't got enough fuel. Breeder reactors solve that problem for long enough, but we're only building an insignificant handful (we'd need hundreds) and none in the UK. By the time we've built new fission plants, we won't have enough fuel left to last their working lifetime. (Fusion anyone?)

    4) Fission is horrendously expensive (8p per unit compared with 3p for coal, 4p for gas, 9p for wind and tidal, and very roughly 12p for solar). Nuclear fission is at the end of it's development cycle so the price is not going to fall. Renewables are at the beginning of their development cycles and are getting cheaper almost daily. These costs to the end user also fail to take account of government spending (i.e. tax) on waste disposal and security, both of which are rising rapidly for nuclear, and non-existent for renewables.

  17. Daniel Wilkie


    I have to admit (and it pains me to do so) that I'd be happy with the french running our... running... with the french - no I can't say it. But I do mean it :p

    As for building new sites from the Chancellors money, I'd bet the reason we can't is because he's already spent it. I wonder how much the bank of England charge in Overdraft fees, we must be well over our limit by now...

  18. Eddie Edwards

    @ As usual, financial greed fucks up the world

    "Stocks, shares, funds. All skimming of the top of society, screwing the economy and funneling resources into their own pockets."

    Er, no. Pension funds are owned by millions of people who rely on them for their, er, pension. The people running these funds have a legal mandate to manage them properly. And the owners of a company have the right to set the sale price.

    But I'd love to hear your alternative way of running things. Does it perchance involve lots of tanks and disenfranchisement of the Bourgeoisie?

    "Burn them, kill their children and drown their parents"

    Ah. I see it does.

  19. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Street Craps .......Skies the Limit

    Here's going for two in a row, Dangermouse. Dangermouse Posted Friday 1st August 2008 09:53 GMT .... "Succinctly put .... (for once!)"

    The Days of Yore and Gore, whenever a Troika [such as a Stalin, a Churchill and a Roosevelt at Yalta] can conspire to carve up the Riches of the world, as if their Rightful Due and Benefit, and hide it behind a facade of Political Correctness is now long gone and an Aberration of the Past.

    Critical Intelligence Analysis and Ubiquitous Instant Global Communication has seen to that.

    And dragging their heels and hanging onto the Victorious Emperor Dreams are still the Educated Idiot and the Useful Fool, Spinning Lies and Deceit spreading Shock and Awe and thinking to Escape into Luxurious Oblivion with Feted Sinecures.

    And QuITe why the Bar is not raised to Punish the Practise, says as much about the Bar as it does about the Failure of Global Intelligence and the Patent Hypocrisy and Crass Ignorant Arrogance which drives them both.

    What you would choose to do about such Fools is of no Concern or Interest to CyberIntelAIgents Playing the Great Game in AIMarkets for a Virtualised Future and IT Derivatives of such Futures in the Cloud Environment, but what is Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander when Armchair Hero Warriors Play the Blame Game in conflicting Alternate Reality Games/ARGs.

    Spookily enough, Argonautics is not a brand new discipline for its Model, is at least sixty three years old ..... ..... it is just that present and former national champions of the Genre are absolutely clueless about how to play the Game without it all turning into a Crappy Mess from which then think they can Run away from and Hide in a new Persona ..... amongst Friends who would not know them if they were disguised or Foe who would disguise them if they knew them.

    J'accuse the Educated Idiot and the Useful Fool .... Oxymorons to the Core.


    Why do you think it so bad that a pension company, who are responsible for getting the most money possible for it's members, should ask for more cash? Or are you annoyed because you don't have a pension with either of them and begrudge their attempt to get more cash?" .... By Pete James Posted Friday 1st August 2008 09:54 GMT

    I don't think it so bad, Pete James, if they are in the Driving Seat and in Control of their Situation and Destiny...... but as a Passenger of Fate in the Back Seat on the Way to Hospital after a Savage Assault, one can hardly expect AIdDelaying Sojourn to Improve one's Condition. It smacks of a Serious Deteriorating Brain Condition too.

  20. Piloti

    By Anonymous Coward et al....

    re the "train your own engineers and develop your industry then" chap....

    Yes I agree. Could not agree more in fact.

    The history of this goes back a while, but 'engineering' is not seen as sexy, as Dyson once said. Which is why we dont build planes any more, or cars [yes I know, Nissan in tyneside etc...] , or power plants or trains or..... the list goes on a bit. So, hats off to the frogs, they have it right. it is the beefies who have fucked it up.

    And in reply to the oik who thinks that */not/* letting other people run your power supply is somehow a peculiar thought [although what the hell Babbage has to do with time travel I have no idea...] there are some key fundamentals that every country should be : one is food sufficient and the second is power sufficient.


  21. Anonymous Coward

    Typical UK

    Firstly I think the French with most of the power coming from nuclear sources are probably the best placed to run a nuclear power station, UK hasn't actually built on the these for a couple of decades...

    Secondly is this the first time that the UK government has actually stopped some of the UK assets being sold to outside interests (think: fishing etc)...

    Thirdly, stop complaining about Europe - you voted for them!

    Fourly...I don't live in the UK any more :-)

  22. Dangermouse


    Took me a while to get through that one, and I think I went cross-eyed once or twice but.....

    he shoots - and he scores!!!


  23. daniel


    Yes, there have been a problem with a subcontractor working at the Tricastin plant that released radioelements into the environment, and there is contraversy about a long term radioactive pollution on the same site due to military waste, but this waste dump is off limits and civilian exposure rates are not applicable... Probably the same with most other nuclear military applications.

    Dispite this pollution, exposure has not as yet had a noted impact on the local environment.

    An EU medical study around all nuclear powerstations and recycling plants in europe did actually notice a larger number of lukemia and other cancer's arount 2 centres: One in Germany - now closed... and Sellafield... So yes, accidents have occured and will occur (like Dungeness B being washed away by the tide in the near future, or being flooded if the sea levels rise as it was built too close to the sea shore), but it seems that the UK could do with having a little more expert input in the matter that the French have.

    Oh, I'm sorry, maybe it's because you take quality newspapers like Teh Sun too seriously and believe that only xeonophobic and europhobic Britain can have the answer as the rest of the world except the US are just a bunch of ignorant hicks?

  24. Robert Synnott

    Old argument...

    "Nuclear fission is at the end of it's development cycle so the price is not going to fall." - Erm, I'm sorry, but this is just wrong. What makes you think this? Google "4th generation reactor", please.

    Also, I suspect that your prices are dubious, especially the one for wind. How much does it cost to get the wind to blow all the time to provide base load, btw? :)

  25. Chris

    Nice example...

    ...of a no win situation.

    We remain 'in control' of our Nuclear Power generation industry - BUT, pretty soon we aren't going to have one...

    Still, there's a miniscule upside - we aren't going to have that well known, and oh so reliable, firm of French extortionists (EDF) building and running our nuclear power stations.

    And, Gordon, you plan 'B' was?

    More tax? Blame it on someone, anyone, else? Hide in a dark (it will be) corner, shivering?

    Pathetic, isn't it?

    Will the last person to leave please turn the lig...

    Oh. Wait a minute, no need, there won't be any.

  26. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    If you are worried about nuclear safety, go train as a nuclear safety inspector

    About twenty years ago, one graduate of the department of nuclear engineering ant QM&WC got a job selling cars. The other two didn't. The department closed down. Now we have a choice of buying nuclear power stations from abroad or cutting demand for power.

    The cost of fuel is going up and that is never going to change. Renewables have a substantial maintenance cost that often disappears from their budgets. They require big energy storage facilities that almost never get included in their budgets. I would like some renewables in the mix, but in reality, if you want to drive a car, in future you will need a nuclear power station to charge it. If you want to eat for a reasonable price, in future you will need nuclear power to make the fertiliser.

    The UK could build a huge number of windmills to supply our current usage of electricity (Watch the numbers here - a windfarm backed by energy storage produces about 1/3 of its capacity because the wind does not always blow). Covering the country in windmills would not run transport and agriculture. The other non-nuclear option is to reduce population by about half, but that plan would still be less popular than nukes if those in favour ate the most vociferous objectors.

    Current sources of uranium are limited. They are meeting meeting demand so there is no incentive to exploit more sources. The fuel is not a major cost in nuclear power. Even if it takes ten times as much money to get uranium from less convenient sources nuclear power will still cost about the same amount. Fusion would have the same problem and solution with deuterium if we had cost competitive fusion plants.

    Existing nuclear sites are more valuable to some pension funds than they are to EDF. I do not have a problem with that. The price of energy will rise until people are prepared to accept nuclear. This might even happen while we can still afford to buy nuclear power plants. If not, those who can afford it will move to a first world country, and any of the remainder that survive can sell beef to Europe like we did before we had any industry.

  27. Pete James

    @ amanfrommars

    Thanks AMFM, my eyes hurt and now I really need a holiday. NOW! :-)

    All the best everyone!

  28. Anonymous Coward

    @AC (says the French are safe Nuke builders)

    Your English is very good for a Frenchie.

    As for them being safe tell that to the Channel Island residents where Cap De La Hage often flush their waste into the English Channel (not French, it belongs to ENGLAND) and the Channel Islands are radiated. The French can't do wine,wars or women - why do you think the English would trust them with our electricity supplies ?

    Remember Waterloo?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    "nuclear power to make the fertiliser", and pension funds

    Er, when the Yanks stopped Cuba from buying things like fertiliser, did Cuba starve? No, they changed from petrol-powered agribusiness to mostly-organic agriculture, and carried on eating quite nicely thank you. It'll happen in the west too: as energy prices go up, sooner or later the cost of making the fertiliser will exceed the financial benefit which the fertiliser enables.

    re pension funds: although pension funds may nominally be owned by their members, members whose interests are best served if the fund does well over a period of decades, the funds, like the rest of the City, are generally *operated* by a tiny self-serving bunch of ill-regulated city spivs whose interests are best served by setting themselves up a nice quarterly megabonus scheme and sod the long term performance metrics (over decades, for pension schemes) because either they'll have retired long before then (with a nice pension, not based on the schemes they run), or the bottom will have dropped out of their favourite market and they need to move into a fresh one with a new bunch of suckers to fleece. "Credit crunch"? You ain't seen nuffink yet.

  30. Nicolas Fanget

    @Channel Island AC

    "Your English is very good for a Frenchie."

    Thank you! Probably comes from working in the UK for ~10 years.

    "Cap De La Hage often flush their waste into the English Channel (not French, it belongs to ENGLAND) and the Channel Islands are radiated"

    Have you noticed how the Channel Islands are VERY close to Mont St Michel? Do you really think that is done on purpose 'coz the Channel is English (it's not as far as I'm aware, but we're not going to start a war on that are we?)? Screw ups/bad practice happen everywhere, but the French nuclear power stations have the best record for safety in the world. Nuclear energy isn't even a great idea for electricity (waste and all), but for now that's all we have (in combination with renewables).

    "The French can't do wine,wars or women - why do you think the English would trust them with our electricity supplies ?"

    I don't drink or fight, and my wife isn't even European, so I couldn't care less, but I fail to see the link with nuclear power. After all, most of Europe relies on Saudi Arabia and Russia for oil and gas, believe me I'd rather trust the Auld Enemy!

    "Remember Waterloo?"

    I do, I took the Eurostar a few times from there, but I'm looking forward to using St Pancras. Unless this was a none-too-subtle way to refer to a 19th century battle lost by the French in order to say "we pwn you!" and wag a virtual forum willy?

  31. Laurent Leconte

    @AC 12:35

    Jesus, that comes as close as it can to a declaration of war, doesn't it ?

    Condescending tone, inflammatory rethorics, gratuitous forgot to mention Joan of Arc but otherwise a very good effort. I give this flame 3 flint stones out of 5.

    A caveat : I'm a French engineer so of course I'm going to have a biased view. But I for one believe that nuclear power is currently the only viable solution for supplying sustainable electrical energy; and that as a country producing 3/4 of its electricity from nuclear plants, and having built quite a lot of power plants at home and abroad France (its industry, at any rate) certainly has the necessary know-how. Much as I'd like to see our French-hating neighbours personified by AC revert to the Middle Ages I honestly think this deal would have been a good thing for both countries.

    Eagerly awaiting the French-bashing and green propaganda !

  32. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Two out of three aint bad

    "The French can't do wine,wars or women" ... By Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 1st August 2008 12:35 GMT

    Well .... now that is a bold statement

    Comely Sarah [Brown].... or Come Hither Carla [Bruni] is such a Teaser.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @ AC 12:35

    "where Cap De La Hage often flush their waste into the English Channel"

    Yeah, and we'd never pump tons of radioactive material into the IRISH SEA would we?


  34. archie lukas

    French studies on Nuclear issues

    I studied the public French attitude to nuclear power; they had almost zero covergae on chernobyl (whilst the Italians pulled full emergency powers)

    and really don't seem all that bothered.

    No surprises - France is 95% powered by Nuclear; so who has more experience in running them?

    One thing I want to know though.

    Where does Frances re-process spent fuel

    and where do they they store the unprocessed waste?

    (Not Sellafield surely?)

  35. Dominic Tristram

    Short-term thinking

    Ok, let's think of the long game. Encourage far more graduates in nuclear physics, engineering, or whatever we need by awarding huge grants to the best and brightest, and they'll be qualified before the power stations themselves are even half built. Hire key nuclear workers from France if need be, then just do it all in-house (i.e. the state builds them). What's the fixation with the free market? The state will almost certainly have to pay for the cleanup and storage costs anyway, so they may as well make what profit there is.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    French-bashing? Non, merci.

    Not my game, I've enjoyed my visits as a tourist and on business.

    But on this subject there's the small matter of the French nuclear industry's safety case and in particular their analysis of "what if a plane crashes into a reactor?".

    A while back, the chances of a plane crashing into a reactor were based on the chances of a random plane crash in a random location with a random plane. IE it was almost infinitely improbable, and thus could largely be ignored.

    It is now undeniably the case that nuclear stations are targets, and that an aircraft impact is a credible event and is quite likely to happen sooner rather than later, and that the craft used is quite possibly going to be big, multi-engined, and heavily laden with fuel (unlike the lightweight fighter craft with not much fuel which is currently used in the French safety case). Not a very realistic safety case. But let's not worry about it, it's about as likely as Wigan Athletic getting out of the Northern Premier League (see, hindsight's kinda handy when the unexpected happens, even if it takes a while).

    Who's going to be paying for the French nuclear industry cleanup now? They were probably hoping the english (British?) would pay through their electricity bills.

    What's the French for "atomkraft? Nein danke"?

    Flames, because that's what you get when an airliner hits a solid object at speed (how would an A380 be?).

  37. Anonymous Coward


    Rememeber about....

    Remember Hastings?

    That'll be the battle, where they defeated the "English", conquered the country, altered our lifestyles, married our men and women and changed the "English" language forever....

    They may be crap at farming, but they are better at engineering these days....

  38. Nick

    Selling and running them

    Areva and EDF are in the running to build some of their own anyway. These are almost certainly going to be built on the same site as existing ones. If they were going to get approval to do so, owning the site already would reduce costs quite a bit, including through-life ones. No need to pay British Energy all sorts of cash if you want to build and run one next door to them.

    Perhaps hanging fire until EDF get their designs approved and want to build some - then your portfolio of sites and stations goes up in value....

    << fire, cos, you know its all terribly dangerous.

  39. David Pollard

    "Further delays at the very least"

    Perhaps the nuclear scientists recruited to work on Trident could be redeployed to research on 'fourth generation' thorium based reactors. There's a strong argument that our security would be better were we developing this sort of technology, with the potential to denature waste and consume plutonium stocks while providing low-carbon energy, rather than (allegedly) designing bunker-buster nukes.

  40. Mike Richards Silver badge

    And another reason to get at Gordon Brown

    Until last year the British government had a majority stake in British Energy, until it was flogged off to try and balance the books by one Gordon Brown.

    In the last few years, Labour have sold off BNFL's Westinghouse group which manufactures reactors AND control of the industry - but are now trying to have a nuclear future.

    Honestly, this lot couldn't organise the piss up if we provided the brewery AND and an instruction sheet.

  41. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    I'm here

    until the lights go out

    Which under the current government(and any future one) will be about 2018-2020 as the life expired nuclear and coal plants go offline.

    But EDF have a cunning secondary plan since the deal fell through, they'll be building about 20 nuclear power stations along the north coast of France and running power lines under the channel to poor old blighty

    But if you fancy building a nuclear power station here, then you have to plan accordingly

    2009 : planning application, greenpeace objects

    2011 : planning inquiry starts

    2014 : planning inquiry finishes

    2015 : planning inquiry reports 'Yes' to power station

    2015 : greenpeace goes to high court

    2017 : high court agrees, stops construction

    2017 : power company appeals

    2019 : house of lords overules high court

    2019 : greenpeace activists occupy site

    2020 : construction starts slowly as eco-warriors spend each night demolishing the work done during the day

    2023 : major power failure, all UK citys go dark

    2023(later that same day) : UK citys illuminated by the population burning greenpeace members

    2025 : new power station finished, unable to start due to the control software being based on windows vista. "Are you sure you really want to remove the control rods?"


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