Ground could be broken on Sizewell C as soon as next year after it received the go-ahead from the government yesterday.

Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said development consent had been granted for the multi-billion-pound project.

The project, which was first proposed by EDF nearly 10 years ago and went before planners two years ago, will generate enough electricity for six million homes once it has been completed.

EDF bosses now expect the final funding scheme for the project to be agreed upon in 2023, and for spades to go into the ground shortly afterwards.

Tom McGarry, head of regional external affairs & development for Sizewell C, said: "We're obviously very pleased that we have reached this milestone.

"We feel that the decision indicates that this is the right project, in the right place, at the right time.

"However, we will be progressing with humility. We understand, that while many, many people support Sizewell C, there are, of course, people who are against it, and are worried and have concerns about the impact of construction.

"What we want to do is to make sure that we are working with those in the local community and give them the reassurance that we will do whatever we can to limit the disruption from construction and to maximise the opportunities for Suffolk."

Mr McGarry said these opportunities include jobs, investment in skills and training, as well as opportunities for local firms to supply the project.

He said that some of these benefits were already being felt by people in the county – such as those who had been taken on to work at Hinkley Point C, another EDF nuclear project in Somerset, ahead of returning to work in more senior roles in Suffolk.

He added that a final investment decision would unlock previously-agreed funding with education providers and others in the county that was "all geared towards trying to make sure that we have local people who are going to be able to benefit from the project".

The project is expected to use a regulated asset base funding model, which sees a part of the cost of construction added to consumers' energy bills.

Julia Pyke, Sizewell C’s financing director, said: "The tried and tested funding arrangement we are proposing means that, by paying a small amount during construction, consumers will benefit in the long-term."

As part of the project, Suffolk will benefit from £250m-plus of investment to mitigate the impact on communities, the environment and infrastructure. This includes improvements to the A12, community sports projects, and investing in the railway line.

Carly Vince, the project's chief planning officer, said: "I would like to thank the thousands of people in East Suffolk who contributed to our consultation sessions and the public examination.

"The input of residents, local authorities, environmental groups and many others has helped us to improve our plans. We will continue to work closely with them to make sure we minimise the impacts of construction and maximise the huge opportunities for the area."

Sizewell C's approval has been met with support from unions and bodies within the nuclear industry.

Charlotte Childs, GMB national officer, said: “Sizewell C is essential for meeting our energy challenges. This is a vital step forward for energy security and net zero."

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “This is a huge step forward for Britain’s energy security and net zero ambitions.

“Sizewell C will provide reliable low-carbon power for more than 80 years, cutting gas use, creating thousands of high-quality, skilled jobs, and long-term investment and opportunity up and down the country.

“Sizewell C will be one of the UK’s largest ever green-energy projects, and this decision significantly strengthens the pipeline of new nuclear capacity in Britain.”