After years of negotiations, posturing and pencil-sucking, plus a final review by our new Prime Minister, the construction of a new nuclear power plant at Hinckley Point was approved last week. I think that was wrong.
My reasons have little to do with the major role overseas interests will play in developing the UK’s first new nuclear station in over two decades. French atomic giant EDF is to build the £18bn Somerset plant, ending-up as the two-thirds majority shareholder. And the Chinese government will provide another third of the cash. I have no particular problem with that.
George Osborne’s eighth budget was apparently aimed at “the next generation”. The Chancellor used this phrase on 18 occasions during his hour-long Commons statement. This was a policy package for “the long-term” Osborne told us an astonishing 19 times.
The budget also offered “major new commitments to national infrastructure projects” – the i-word getting no less than 10 mentions. What with the “sugar tax”, though, shaky fiscal rules and rows over disability benefit, last week’s infrastructure announcements haven’t received much attention.
It’s not surprising the Chancellor emphasized infrastructure in his latest Commons set piece. Better roads and railways are vital, after all, if Britain is to address its worsening “productivity problem”.