Hinkley Point Nuclear Plant approved by UK Government
Ministers give Hinkley Point approval on basis greater security measures will be introduced
Nuclear plant - Fotolia
The UK Government has hailed a “major step forward” in its energy plans as it confirmed it had given the go-ahead to the Hinkley Point Nuclear Plant.
The Hinkley Point project, which will be Britain's first new nuclear power plant in 20 years, has been mired in controversy, with Theresa May having delayed approval for the £18bn project last month amid criticism on both environmental and security grounds.
Ministers today gave their approval on the basis that greater security measures, including restrictions on the sale of French firm EDF's stake in the project, would be introduced.
But environmental groups criticised the decision, with Friends of the Earth director Dr Richard Dixon describing the development as “a colossal waste of public money”.
Greg Clark, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, said the plant was an “important upgrade” to Britain's energy infrastructure and a “major step forward for our nuclear power programme”.
He said: “Having thoroughly reviewed the proposal for Hinkley Point C, we will introduce a series of measures to enhance security and will ensure Hinkley cannot change hands without the Government’s agreement.”
Ministers have also vowed to impose a new legal framework for future foreign investment in Britain’s infrastructure, so that the Government has a veto over ownership sales.
May halted the deal in one of her first acts as Prime Minister amid concerns over value for money and whether the Chinese involvement is a security risk.
The surprise delay last month prompted China, which is pumping £6bn into the project – to warn Britain against making "unwanted accusations".
Shadow Energy Secretary Barry Gardiner slammed the Government for failing to haggle down the price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of energy created.
He argued EDF – the state-owned French firm that is part-funding the project – had agreed a €64 (about £54) per megawatt hour deal for a nuclear plant in France.
“This has been a problem-ridden project right from the beginning,” he told Radio 4's Today programme.
“The Government said they would review every aspect of this deal... what is now leaking out is they are not going to change that exorbitant price that bill payers will be paying.”
Dixon said: “Building new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point and committing to pay EDF twice the current energy price for the next 35 years is a colossal waste of public money. Our grandkids will still be paying it off and for generations to come people will be living with the toxic legacy of nuclear waste.
He added: “Once the deal has been signed comes the truly difficult part of actually building the plant. This type of reactor design has never been successfully completed anywhere with EDF’s two other projects in Finland and France well over budget and behind schedule. It is quite possible the Hinkley Point reactors will never produce a single electron.”
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