The British Government has finally given the go-ahead for a new £18bn nuclear power station but imposed “significant new safeguards” to protect national security.
The new plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset is being financed by the French and the Chinese. The Chinese welcomed the decision, saying they were not concerned about new rules on future projects.
Jean-Bernard Lévy, group chief executive of French firm EDF, which is building the plant, said: “The decision of the British Government to approve the construction of Hinkley Point C marks the relaunch of nuclear in Europe.”
The Government it would now “impose a new legal framework for future foreign investment in Britain’s critical infrastructure”.
Critics have warned of escalating costs and the implications of nuclear power plants being built in the UK by foreign governments. France’s EDF is funding two-thirds of the project, which will create more than 25,000 jobs, with China investing the £6bn.
The Government said: “After Hinkley, the British Government will take a special share in all future nuclear new build projects. This will ensure that significant stakes cannot be sold without the Government’s knowledge or consent. There will be reforms to the Government’s approach to the ownership and control of critical infrastructure to ensure that the full implications of foreign ownership are scrutinised for the purposes of national security.”
The state-owned China General Nuclear Corporation said: “We are now able to move forward and deliver much needed nuclear capacity at Hinkley Point, Sizewell and Bradwell with our strategic partners, EDF, and provide the UK with safe, reliable and sustainable low-carbon energy.”