Fresh concerns about the budget and timelines of Hinkley Point C near Burnham-On-Sea have been raised this week after EDF Energy warned that a flagship nuclear power station it is building in France could run further behind schedule and over budget, after it detected faults.

The firm says inspections have uncovered problems with welding on pipes at the Flamanville plant in north-west France.

Flamanville’s reactor design is the same as the one being used at a delayed plant in Finland and at Hinkley Point, where EDF is building the UK’s first new nuclear power station in decades.

The company said that it had discovered “quality deviations” on 150 welds in a system used to transport steam to turbines used for electricity generation.

EDF said it was performing further checks to see what works would be needed to satisfy the safety requirements of the French nuclear regulator and would report back in May.

In a statement, the firm said: “Following the current checks and the licensing process by the ASN, EDF will be able to specify whether the project requires an adjustment to its timetable and its costs.”

Commenting on the news, Stop Hinkley campaign spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said: “The European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) reactor proposed for Hinkley Point C is like watching a car crash in slow motion. It is the unloved, unwanted, and unbuildable child of former EDF boss Vincent de Rivas.”

“We can still stop this before it gets even worse. Although abandoning this ill-fated project now would incur cancellation costs, consumers could still save almost £1.5bn per year for 35 years from 2027 onwards.”

“25 years after French engineers began working on the EPR, EDF has yet to get one up and running. Flamanville is seven years late, one in Finland is ten years late and even two in China will be at least five years late.”