Jim Armitage: A nuke deal is in the offing - don't blow it this time

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The Independent Online

The Government's claim this week to be pro-business is news to Carillion.

The enginering contractor signed up with gusto to the Green Deal, a state-sponsored scheme to encourage householders and businesses to carry out environmental upgrades to their properties - insulation, double glazing and the like.

Carillion, which can ill afford the money, pumped millions of pounds into preparing for a flood of orders for new boilers, lagging jobs and other lucrative stuff. But none arrived. The most recent figures from the Government suggest the number of households taking up Green Deal loans the length of breadth of the country totalled... 12.

Now, £40m of writeoffs later, Carillion will be thinking again about whether to jump on board the next state-sponsored wheeze.

And then look at our dismal efforts to get a nuclear energy programme going for the last decade and more. Here, the stakes are in the many billions rather than tens of millions of pounds.

Last night it emerged that France's EDF is finally getting somewhere with energy minister Michael Fallon on building a new reactor at Hinkley Point. This will unlock one of the biggest inward investment programmes to the UK in decades, with China and South Korean investors waiting to come in too.

But the Government must offer long-term certainty and stability to these investors if we are not to see yet another energy fiasco.