Business secretary Greg Clark reckons the government is bringing in new security restrictions – but they seem weak. A ban on EDF being able to sell its interest without UK government approval? That’s not security – it’s commerce.
A new national security test for all foreign investment in critical infrastructure also seems toothless; China has already said it will not affect that country’s goal of developing its own plant at Bradwell in Essex and making a more active investment in Sizewell B in Suffolk.
According to Jean-Bernard Lévy, chief executive of EDF, the approval of Hinkley ‘C’ marks the “relaunch of nuclear in Europe”.
This is a step backwards – and a bitter blow for all those who have been working towards a greener, cleaner, forward-looking mode of energy generation.
Theresa May has given the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station the go-ahead with “significant new safeguards” to make sure Chinese involvement does not threaten national security.
The controversial scheme in Somerset was approved six weeks after May unexpectedly placed the project under review, causing tensions with China.
Under the deal the major plant is to be built by EDF, the French state company, with £6bn investment from China, without any changes to the original price tag.
Both EDF and China General Nuclear said they were delighted by the approval, which will let them proceed with Hinkley and their wider plans for nuclear construction in the UK in future.
Following the reviews, the government is keeping a guaranteed price of £92.50 to EDF for every megawatt hour of electricity generated, despite concerns that is far higher than the market rate.
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