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Ministers close to deal that could end China’s role in UK nuclear power station

Ministers are closing in on a deal that could kick China off a project to build a £20bn nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast and pump in tens of millions of pounds of taxpayer cash instead – a move that would heighten geopolitical tensions.

The government could announce plans to take a stake in Sizewell C power station, alongside the French state-backed power giant EDF, as early as next month, ahead of the Cop26 climate summit.

That would be likely to result in China General Nuclear (CGN), which currently has a 20% stake in Sizewell, being removed from the project.

It risks inflaming political tensions, which are running high after Britain’s decision to join the Aukus nuclear submarine pact with the US and Australia – a move designed to counteract China’s military expansion. CGN, the power giant backed by the communist state, is also bankrolling EDF’s Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset.

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Photograph: EDF.

French nuclear firm trying to fix ‘performance issue’ at China plant

The Guardian – Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent

EDF subsidiary reportedly warned of ‘imminent radiological threat’ at Taishan nuclear power plant

A French nuclear company has said it is working to resolve a “performance issue” at a plant it part-owns in China’s southern Guangdong province after an earlier report of a potential leak there.

Framatome, a subsidiary of the energy giant EDF, told Agence France-Presse news agency that it was “supporting resolution of a performance issue” at the plant. “According to the data available, the plant is operating within the safety parameters,” it said, adding that an extraordinary meeting of the power plant’s board had been called “to present all the data and the necessary decisions”.

The statement came shortly after the US TV network CNN reported that Framatome had previously warned the US energy department of an “imminent radiological threat” in a letter.

According to CNN, the letter included an accusation that the Chinese safety authority was “raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the Taishan nuclear power plant in Guangdong province in order to avoid having to shut it down”.

China’s state-run China General Nuclear Power Group said on Sunday that operations at its nuclear power station in south China met safety rules and the surrounding environment was safe. A US official told CNN “the Biden administration believes the facility is not yet at ‘crisis level’”.

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Building Britain’s Biggest Nuclear Power Station review – so boring it’s a masterpiece!

The Guardian – Stuart Jeffries

This programme was so boring. How boring? Let’s put it this way. It dealt with a 130-metre-long boring machine that is boring three boreholes under the Bristol Channel’s Jurassic bedrock. It’s a machine even more boring than the one boring through the Chilterns to make the rail journey to or from Birmingham less boring. As if that were possible. The machine is so boring it doesn’t have a name, though if there were a public vote it would be called Borey McBoreface.

First, we saw the boring machine arriving by barge then loaded on to trucks and driven under police escort through Somerset lanes. This sequence was so devoid of incident it resembled that four-hour BBC film of a sleigh ride across the tundra in real time. At least the tundra film had huskies. Director Mat Stimpson only had an answer to the question “Where did all the interchangeable male engineers in hi-vis gilets and hard hats go?” Actually that’s not fair: there was a female engineer, whom we saw checking that the ambient temperature didn’t rise too fast to make concrete set too quickly. Which wasn’t boring at all.

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Plan now for more beastly weather and coastal destruction

The Guardian – Letters

Weather events like Storm Darcy highlight the need for better protection plans in East Anglia, according to Prof Susan M Brooks and Prof Tom Spencer

Once again, eastern England is in the icy grip of “the beast” (UK weather: Storm Darcy to bring more snowfall and gale-force winds, 8 February), with the coast being pounded by persistent waves up to 4 metres high. In February and March 2018, similar waves associated with “the beast from the east” and the “mini beast” stripped beaches down to bedrock and saw soft rock cliffs retreat by over 10 metres. The erodible East Anglian coastline supports habitats of high conservation value and installations of strategic importance to UK energy security (Sizewell nuclear power stations, Bacton gas terminals). If these outbreaks of polar air are to become more frequent in a warmer world, as some suggest, the potential impacts of such phenomena must be factored into regional coastal management planning, alongside the more usual focus on sea-level rise.
Prof Susan M Brooks Birkbeck, University of London, Prof Tom Spencer Cambridge University

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Hinkley Point C costs may rise by £500m on back of Covid crisis

The Guardian – Jillian Ambrose Energy correspondent

Opening of UK nuclear power plant could be delayed by six months

The Covid-19 pandemic could delay construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor by six months and raise its costs by £500m, according to its developer.

The fresh delays are expected to take the cost of the UK’s first new nuclear power plant in a generation to £23bn, EDF Energy said, and put back its launch to the summer of 2026.

Related: Cross-channel power link for 1m British homes opens

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Saxon church prays for deliverance from nuclear plant

The Guardian – James Tapper

Community says boom in renewable energy means Bradwell B in Essex is not needed

For the 55 years that Tim Fox has worshipped at St Peter-on-the-Wall, his only neighbours have been a farm and a birdwatchers’ shelter.

Now, the tranquil surroundings of the salt marsh and the Essex sea wall at Bradwell-on-Sea are threatened by a new arrival: a sprawling nuclear power station, Bradwell B.

Related: Michael Morpurgo on Bradwell-on-Sea: ‘The exhilaration of infinite beauty’

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