EDF will not go ahead with the contentious £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear project near Burnham-On-Sea unless it wins further financial support from the French government, according to a leaked letter by the firm’s chief executive.

Jean-Bernard Lévy says in a letter seen by the Financial Times newspaper that he was negotiating to “obtain commitments from the state to help secure our financial position”.

He added he would “not engage in the [Hinkley Point] project before these conditions are met”, without going into detail on how this might occur.

The newspaper reports that two people close to EDF said the French state could take a stake in the Hinkley Point C project, or possibly participate in a capital raising by the company, although they said that nothing had been finalised.

The government already has an 85 per cent stake in EDF. The letter by Mr Lévy was intended to reassure EDF employees amid growing disquiet over its plans to build two new nuclear reactors at the Hinkley Point power station for electricity generation.

Thomas Piquemal, EDF’s finance director, resigned last week over concerns that the project could threaten the company’s future, as reported here.

And the Cour des Comptes, France’s state audit body, said on Thursday that the “complexity of both funding and carrying out” Hinkley Point should cause EDF to ask itself if it was the right decision, as reported here.

Critics have raised concerns about the £18bn cost given EDF’s stretched balance sheet. The company has €37bn of net debt.

Pictured: Top, Hinkley Point power station with Brent Knoll in the background (pic Mark Robinson)