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Hinkley Point: UK approves nuclear plant deal

The government has given the go ahead for a new £18bn nuclear power station in the UK after imposing "significant new safeguards" for future projects

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Artist's impression of Hinkley Point C building proposals
Artist's impression of Hinkley Point C building proposals

The government has given the go ahead for a new £18bn nuclear power station in the UK after imposing "significant new safeguards" for future projects.

The new plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset is being financed by the French and the Chinese.

In exchange, China wanted to use its design for new UK nuclear stations.

However, the government said it would now "impose a new legal framework for future foreign investment in Britain's critical infrastructure".

Critics of the deal 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, with China investing the remaining £6bn.

The Chinese agreed to take a stake in Hinkley and at Sizewell in Suffolk on the understanding that the UK government would approve a Chinese-led and designed project at Bradwell in Essex, which has raised questions over national security.

In a statement, 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."

It added: "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."

Energy Secretary Greg Clark, said: "I think it was right for a new government to look seriously at all the components of the deal.
"What we have decided is that for critical infrastructure generally we want to make sure our powers in this country are comparable to those of others, to be able to check that national security considerations are taken into account."

He added: "So what we have done here in Hinkley is require that EDF, the principal operator guarantees - makes a commitment - that they won't dispose of their stake without the government's consent unless and until the plant is built. And in future all nuclear power plants will be subject to the same regime."

The government has not altered the guaranteed payment of £92.50 per megawatt hour for electricity generated. Shadow energy minister, Barry Gardiner said it is "too high a price" and it should have been renegotiated.

The decision on investment was approved by EDF's board in July, and was agreed in principle with China during the state visit by President Xi Jinping to the UK in October 2015.

BBC

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