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EDF chief urges Britain to give go-ahead to nuclear plant

Prime Minister May concerned about China’s involvement, particularly in terms of national security

Published: Updated:

The head of EDF Energy has urged the British government to approve the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project, an explict appeal by the French energy giant ahead of a decision due within weeks.

Prime Minister Theresa May intervened last month to delay the $24 billion (18 billion pound)) project, just hours after it was approved by EDF’s board, former cabinet colleague Vince Cable said.

The government says it will make a final decision in the early autumn. Cable said May was concerned about China’s involvement, particularly in terms of national security.

The state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) is EDF’s partner in building the two new
reactors at Hinkley Point, southwest England, which would provide about 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity.

EDF Energy Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz said the Chinese, who will provide 6 billion pounds of funding, were a trusted partner with whom the French had worked building two nuclear reactors in China.

“(The Hinckley Point project) brings the benefits of a 30-year partnership between EDF and CGN in nuclear construction in China, a country with the largest civil nuclear programme in the world,” he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

“We know and trust our Chinese partners.”

Security concerns

Addressing security concerns, he said all staff on nuclear projects were rigorously vetted and the control systems at Hinkley Point would be isolated from IT systems and the internet.

EDF and its partners have agreed to fund the new stations, and in return Britain has committed to paying a minimum price for the power generated for 35 years. Critics say the price, around double current market levels, is too high.

But de Rivaz said it was fair.

“Hinkley Point C is competitive with all other future energy options, even including fossil fuels like gas when the cost of carbon is taken into account,” he said.