It should be pointed that UK nuclear power plants don't have cooling towers. They're all located by the seaside, and use sea water cooling. In the UK, cooling towers are actually more associated with coal-fired power stations.
My reactions to the Daily Telegraph article and the announcement of the go-ahead for a new UK nuclear plant are:
Firstly I'm pleasantly surprised that nuclear plants are getting a go-ahead despite the fact that the Lib Dems are currently part of the government and are also in charge of DECC. It means the Lib Dems are sacrificing some of the anti-nuclear and Green SIF vote that they have been chasing for over 30 years (though they seem to be compensating for that by making moves in appealing to the anti-Trident replacement SIF vote).
The main surprise is the quoted cost of the new nuclear plant. At £16 billion for 3.2GW, We appear to have ended up with the world's most expensive nuclear power generation costs, even more expensive than the USA. The EU Referendum blog has an interesting post on the cost escalation issue and quotes costs for some US nuclear plant currently under construction:
High nuclear costs in the USA have to my knowledge been attributed to three factors more or less unique to the USA: a) a nuclear regulatory authority originally set up by the Nixon administration called the USNRC which indulges in excessive red tape and micro-management, b) a reasonably technically competent anti-nuclear lobby in the form of the "Union of Concerned Scientists". (by contrast in Britain the anti-nuclear lobby's main technical hotshot is some bluffer called John Large), c) a very aggressive response by the authorities if any sort of accident occurs, such as occurred with the TMI incident, and in another industry what BP experienced with the Deepwater Horizon incident.
The EU Referendum blog is blaming the cost escalation on 'regulatory ratcheting'. But I've got a suspicion that the nuclear plant builders are just pricing nuclear power for a new world in which they don't have to compete with fossil fuel at all and are only having to compete with wind energy.
There was also another example of the BBC's Green bias in reporting the story, as pointed out in a post on the BiasedBBC blog:
The BBC reported the eye-watering price per MWh that consumers would have to pay for electricity from the new nuclear plant, but failed to mention that even at this price, it's cheaper than any other low carbon energy source according to the Prime Minister.