The British government is scrutinising the deal with EDF to build Hinkley Point C nuclear power project in a bid to find a clause or loophole that would facilitate withdrawal from the £18bn project.
The Independent reports that the UK is looking at the potential for withdrawal while minimising financial risk and damage to international relations.
A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said: “No contract has been signed and it is only right that a new Government considers all component parts carefully before making a final decision.”
Westminster sources told The Independent ministers are acutely aware of the potential damage a withdrawal from the nuclear power project could do to relations with China, which is committed to pouring billions of pounds into the controversial project.
The previous cabinet under the direction of David Cameron and George Osborne were enthusiastic backers of the project however new Prime Minister Theresa May (right)) has called for the project to be reviewed.
An unnamed civil servant told the Independent, “There is a working assumption of people in government that the civil service is looking for a way out, a legal loophole, a clause. They are looking for anything that will allow the Government to withdraw and also allow the Chinese to withdraw while also saving face.”
The main contention about the deal so far is the price promised for Hinkley’s electricity at £92.50 per MWh, more than double the wholesale price, which is deemed too expensive.
The two new reactors that would be built at Hinkley are also of unproven design, with the two being constructing elsewhere beset by budget overruns and delays.
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