Sir Keir Starmer says oil and gas needed for ‘many years to come’ in Hinkley Point C visit

  • Watch Bob Cruwys' full report

Sir Keir Starmer has claimed Hinkley Point C would have been open by now if Labour was in charge.

The site was one of eight announced by the government in 2010 and is the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in more than 20 years.

Construction started in March 2017 and it is expected to be finished in June 2027.

Once complete, the site will provide low-carbon electricity for around six million homes.

Sir Keir visited the site on Monday 5 June to reassure trade union critics that Labour’s energy plans would not hit jobs, claiming that oil and gas would be necessary for “many, many years” to come.

Sir Keir Starmer met with workers

It comes after GMB union general secretary Gary Smith warned Labour’s policy to ban new oil and gas extraction licences in the North Sea would create a “cliff edge” that will hit jobs.

The Labour plan is a system run entirely by renewable energy - solar, wind, and nuclear. Sir Keir stressed that adapting to climate change and tapping new sources of energy would bring fresh opportunities.

He said during the visit: “I think we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity now to seize the jobs of the future.

“Oil and gas will be part of that, because where there is existing licences they will go on to the 2050s and so oil and gas will be part of our energy mix for many, many years to come.

“But we need to seize the opportunities for the next generation of jobs. And that is in renewables, it is in nuclear, Hinkley Point C here today, staring at the future.

“We have got 9,000 people working on this site, they are going to power the UK and they are the jobs of the future.”

This visit comes as Labour accused the Conservatives of a “shambolic” failure to open any nuclear power plants during 13 years of power.

He told ITV News West Country: “Here we are in 2023 facing very high energy bills. That would have been a different story if we’d had a government that rolled up their sleeves and got on with the job in the last 13 years and that’s unforgivable for people who are struggling with the cost of living.”

He said there’s been 13 years of “dither and delay” and if Labour had been in charge, the Hinkley Point C would have been open by now because they would have had a “strategic plan with real purpose”.

The Labour leader vowed to “get Britain building” as he stressed the “critical” need for nuclear to drive growth, boost energy security and tackle the climate crisis.

Responding to Labour’s nuclear criticisms, a Tory spokesman said: “In 1997 the Labour Party cut the legs off Britain’s nuclear industry, declaring ‘no new nuclear’, nationalising British Energy and handing our energy dependency to China and France.

“That’s why there hasn’t been a nuclear power station built under the Labour Party since Britain had the shilling.

“The Conservatives started turning that around, delivering the first large-scale nuclear project Hinkley Point C and agreeing last year to begin Sizewell C.

“There hasn’t been a nuclear power station built under the Labour party since Britain had the shilling. While the Conservatives will go further securing sovereign, secrete British power for their future as part of our plan to grow the economy, Labour will just leave us dependent on foreign imports.”