February 16, 2016
'Final steps are well in hand' for building Hinkley C, says EDF Energy

EDF has said today that "final steps are well in hand" to enable the full construction of Hinkley Point C near Burnham-On-Sea despite press reports that it is under pressure to abandon the project.

EDF has agreed a deal in principle under which China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) will pay a third of the cost of the £18bn project in exchange for a 33.5% stake.

The company said this morning (Tuesday): "Hinkley Point C is a strong project which is fully ready for a final investment decision and successful construction."

"Final steps are well in hand to enable the full construction phase to be launched very soon."

Reports in the national press indicate the company is struggling to find the cash for its 66.5% stake.

A decision had been expected by EDF yesterday (Monday) on whether it would commit to the £18.6bn project with a final investment decision.

The company's board has also received a report which warns that the nine-year timetable to complete the two nuclear reactors is impossible to meet and could be 'financially disastrous' for the firm.

If built, Hinkley Point C will create thousands of jobs and generate seven per cent of Britain's electricity by 2025, despite opposition from campaigners.

Stop Hinkley spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said: "We are calling on EDF to scrap these plans as soon as possible so that communities in Somerset can get on with planning a sustainable energy future. The Government should stop taking UK energy policy down this nuclear cul-de-sac and get on with implementing a sensible renewable energy strategy."

Theo Simon, a Green Party campaigner, added: "This project has faced major challenges from the outset. EDF first announced Hinkley C in 2013 and said in 2015 that Chinese utility CGN would take a 33.5 percent stake in the project, but yesterday it was announced that the decision has now been delayed for the 10th time, as it struggles to find financing."

According to national press reports, Yannick d'Escatha, the former head of French state nuclear agency CEA, has raised serious doubts about whether the Hinkley Point C project could be completed on schedule.

Furthermore, the project's budget is bigger than EDF's market value. EDF's unions, which have six seats on the firm's 18-member board, are also reportedly opposed to the project and have said they will vote against it.

Pictured: The western end of Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station looking towards Burnham-On-Sea in the far background (photo Richard Baker)

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