Boris Johnson set to sign off £30bn Sizewell nuclear power station before leaving No10 | UK | News
The Prime Minister, who will be leaving his office next week, is preparing to announce an in-principle agreement to offer funding to the Sizewell C reactor in Suffolk. The move comes despite concerns about creating a multibillion-pound spending commitment for Liz Truss, who is the frontrunner to succeed him as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.
According to the reports, Mr Johnson is thought to have privately decided to go ahead with Sizewell C earlier in the summer.
However, he said yesterday that a public announcement was imminent.
Speaking during a visit to Dorset, Mr Johnson said: “We are going to have a long-term British energy security strategy, and we’re putting in more nuclear — you’re going to be hearing more about that later this week.”
Johnson also promised “absolutely shedloads of wind power” as he sought to pin the blame for high gas prices on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He said: “Be in absolutely no doubt that the gas price is being driven by what Putin did in Ukraine.
“I’m not going to shrink from this — it is going to be tough in the months to come, it’s going to be tough through to next year, and that’s because of Putin’s war in Ukraine.
“But we’re going to get through it.”
Mr Johnson acknowledged yesterday that “it is going to be tough through to next year” because of the rising energy bills but said his successor would “provide a further package of support for helping people with the cost of energy”.
Sizewell C was granted planning permission in July but is awaiting a formal Government decision on whether to buy a stake in the plant and unlock private funding for a project whose costs are estimated between £20billion and £30billion.
A final decision on how much taxpayers will put in, expected to be about £6billion, is due next year, giving Truss an opportunity to reappraise the project.
Kwasi Kwarteng, who has been tipped as Ms Truss’ likely Chancellor, is said to be “100 per cent” behind the Sizewell C project after leading negotiations in his present role as Business Secretary.
Kwarteng is also said to be in the final stages of agreeing to a deal with Centrica to reopen the Rough gas storage facility under the North Sea.
The move would be an about-turn that could leave taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of pounds if the company does not make as much as expected.
Last year, Mr Kwarteng dismissed concerns about a lack of storage but is now said to be close to agreement on a deal that would allow Centrica to reopen the storage facility to cash in on high gas prices now, without worrying about losing money if they fall again.
Sources said a deal that “shares the risk and reward” was “pretty close to being finalised”.
The storage field will be open in time to help keep the lights on this winter after Britain struggled to take advantage of a glut of gas passing through UK liquefied natural gas terminals this summer en route to continental Europe.
However, it would not reach full capacity until next year and is likely to have only a marginal effect on energy bills.