EDF Energy has denied national media reports stating that the final investment decision for Hinkley Point C near Burnham-On-Sea has been delayed ‘until at least the Autumn this year’.

The Times reports that the nuclear scheme’s Chinese backers have demanded that the French government protect them if the project goes bust.

The two Chinese companies involved are reported to be concerned about Hinkley Point’s European Pressurised water Reactor (EPR) design.

The newspaper also reported that EDF Energy is seeking assurances from the Government that if Austria wins its legal action against the proposed subsidies and the project has to be abandoned halfway through, the company will receive compensation for the money invested up to that point.

But an EDF spokesman played down the reports, saying: “EDF and the UK Government are working hard to finalize agreements on Hinkley Point C and are making significant progress in all areas, with the shared objective of finalizing all documents by the end of March 2015. EDF is also making progress in its discussions with future project partners. Meanwhile, the Hinkley Point C team is working to prepare for the launch one of the largest construction projects in Europe.”

But The Stop Hinkley Campaign said this week it welcomed the media reports, with spokesman Allan Jeffery adding: “Any further guarantees being sought by the Chinese Companies or EDF energy would need to be notified to the European Competition Commissioner. We also know that the financial arrangements for dealing with radioactive waste have still not been notified to the Commission. The whole project appears to be unravelling before our eyes.”

“And yet as nuclear costs escalate the cost of renewable energy is falling rapidly. For instance, the £160bn invested in clean energy across the globe last year paid for almost twice the clean electricity it would have done three years earlier. It’s time EDF admitted defeat. Somerset should turn its attention to building a local economy which can take advantage of advances in renewable energy and energy efficiency before it’s too late.”