Preston, UK: Leaked government document reveals plan to award UK fracking decision powers to unelected inspectors
Preston, UK: Leaked government document reveals plan to award UK fracking decision powers to unelected inspectors

Top stories

Nuclear: The Hinkley nightmare continues

Last week was pretty disastrous for French utility EDF and its plans to build a big nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

This week hasn’t started well either.

Safety issues have prompted fresh delays to the company’s two new nuclear reactors in China, intended as models for the Hinkley project, we have reported.

According to The Sunday Times, the UK government might withdraw financial support for Hinkley if EDF’s troubled Flamanville plant is not running by 2020.

Meanwhile the company’s board, which last week delayed the final decision on the project following funding issues, safety fears and a union challenge, is reportedly split over Hinkley, with The Times reporting that nearly half of the board are expected to vote against going ahead with the project.

The head of Japanese industrial giant Hitachi told The Telegraph he is concerned about what Hinkley’s problems mean for his company’s planned nuclear plants in the UK.

And, at a behind-closed-doors parliamentary event, EDF distributed a document outlining its corporate values. We’ve seen how they match up with their Hinkley escapades.

Oil & Gas: Profits crash as UK fracking letter is leaked

Unelected planning inspectors will be given the power to approve fracking in local communities instead of councils, according to leaked letter reported on by The Telegraph.

The document classifies the nascent shale gas industry as ‘nationally significant infrastructure,’ and outlines plans to accelerate its growth for the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, on the oil front, the big international companies are expected to announce an across-the-board plunge in profits.

The Guardian reports that BP’s profits for FY2015 will be nearly half what they were in 2014, and Climate Home expects Shell to report around a 40% annual fall.

The chief executive of Centrica told The Times that North Sea oil fields face closure without tax cuts, and The Sunday Times says Shell is one of a handful of giant multinationals that did not pay UK corporation tax in 2014.

Just a glance at the oil price, which has fallen a bit this morning to just over $35 a barrel after the most rapid price rise in five years.

Renewables: CCS probe launched as solar subsidy cut faces court challenge

The National Audit Office will scrutinise George Osborne’s decision to scrap the £1bn competition for carbon capture and storage, reports The Guardian.

Despite price concerns over the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project, the firm has raised money for further ventures around the country, reports The FT.

Solar energy companies are set to clash with the government at the UK Court of Appeals over the decision to end green subsidies early, reports The Independent.

And The Guardian asks: What is holding back the growth of solar power?

Coal: US consumption falls to record low as questions raised over Australia’s climate targets

Coal use in the US has fallen to a 45-year-low, providing only 29% of the country’s power in November, reports

The Associated Press investigates the impact coal’s decline is having on US communities.

Australian thermal coal exports to China fell 30% last year, reports Business Insider, but the down-under country’s coal agenda may threaten its UN climate targets,according to a new report.

And The Times of India is looking into Modi’s growing coal glut.

In other news

US: It’s the first-in-the-nation caucus today in Iowa, which is the most wind-powered state in America.

Climate: How is global warming connected to the Zika virus? Climate Central find out.