Fresh threats to Hinkley Point as opposition hardens

French unions could derail the decision by EDF to approve a final investment decision of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant on the basis that board members were given scant time to read the volumes of information associated with the project.

A legal challenge is now in the offing after board members complained to the media that Jean-Bernard Lévy, the head of EDF gave his fellow board members only two days to read 2,500 pages of contracts before agreeing to proceed with the Hinkley Point nuclear power project last week.
JB Levy
That the UK government decided to delay its decision to go ahead at the eleventh hour has enabled a fresh challenge from union interests who say members were pressurised into approval. They say they were leaned on to support it on the basis that the UK government was fully supportive.

They are now bringing a legal challenge against the company’s final investment decision, the first part of which will be heard this Tuesday. à‚ If the first claim is successful, the investment decision will be considered void until a second hearing on September 22. On that second occasion, the EDF works council will say they were not provided with important documents, such as the contracts with the British government, in enough time.

France regards the deal to build two new reactors in Somerset as key to providing work to its own nuclear power sector but the matter will be shelved until the delayed British decision is finally announced at the end of August.

Meanwhile matters have been compounded by reaction emerging from China to the rationale behind the postponement.

China will not tolerate “unwanted accusations” about its investments in the UK after the delay of the Hinkley nuclear power project, the country’s state-run news agency has said.

Xinhua said it could not understand the “suspicious approach that comes from nowhere to Chinese investment”.

The news agency was reacting to reports that the new government was suspicious of Chinese intentions and the UK was motivated by national security interests.

“China cannot tolerate any unwanted accusation against its sincere and benign willingness for win-win cooperation”.

Nuclear interests have expressed concern that the government decision postponement threatens the industry’s chances of developing new nuclear, a key component in the country’s means of hitting emissions targets and keeping the lights on.

National Grid, the company that runs Britain’s electricity network, has said the country’s climate commitments are achievable without a major increase in new nuclear ࢀ” but only if carbon capture and storage technology is developed on a large scale instead. Last November, George Osborne, the previous chancellor, cancelled a à‚£1bn competition to help companies to develop that technology amid concerns it was too expensive.

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