The UK government says it will have a special share in the consortium building Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.
Meanwhile fellow European Union member, Austria has re-iterated its intention to sue the European Commission if the project begins development.
Chinese interest in the project with China General Nuclear Power Corp. and China National Nuclear Corp. holding 30 to 40 per cent respectively had sparked fears for the country’s national security. However energy secretary Ed Davey told a Parliamentary cross-party Energy and Climate Change Committee, “We’ve taken measures to ensure that. The UK will have a special share in the consortium.”
The government’s special share “will allow us under certain circumstances to step in and make certain decisions around the project that would be specifically designed to protect national security,” Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary and accounting officer at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, also told the panel. “There are other protections which we have designed in association with others in government including the agencies about the nationality of the people who are capable of working on this site.”
“We’ve put no bar in the way to Chinese investment in the nuclear industry,” Davey said. “Everyone has to go through our very, very strict regulatory regime.”
The government is still finalizing the contract with EDF to build the $24bn project in southwest England. Davey told the committee he can’t give a final date for concluding the contract “because there’s quite a lot of work to do.”
“EDF itself has to progress discussions with potential external investors,” Davey said. “It needs to secure that investment to deliver the plant.”
The Austrian government has, in the interim, confirmed that it will take the European Commission to court within two months of it publishing its decision to approve Britain’s plan.
Vienna says such a decision would go against the EU’s aim to support renewable energy.
“Austria will sue at the European Court. The lawsuit can be submitted within two months from the publication by the European Commission, which is expected soon,” the spokeswoman for Chancellor Werner Faymann said, reiterating Austria’s stance.
“The lawsuit will definitely be filed if the decision has not been changed.”
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