The deadline for deciding whether or not to build the Sizewell C nuclear power plant has been pushed back – again.

The government today announced the decision would be made by July 20 at the latest. It had previously been expected tomorrow.

Paul Scully, minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: "I have decided to set a new deadline of no later than July 20, 2022, for deciding this application.

"This is to ensure there is sufficient time to allow the Secretary of State to consider the proposal."

The original deadline for the decision was May 25, but this was put back as secretary of state Kwasi Kwarteng asked for more detail on how water would be supplied to the site.

Alison Downes, from campaign group Stop Sizewell C, said: "I think it's the only conceivable outcome.

"There is no meaningful government at the moment and the Sizewell C decision is so enormous that ministers would have had to have justified why they chose to give it consent – if indeed, that's what they had intended to do.

"So I think it would have been a complete farce if a decision had been announced today or tomorrow.

"In three weeks' time, the situation may be equally confusing in government, but at least there is a bit more time for some proper consideration of these incredibly complex issues."

It comes after the government delayed a decision over whether to approve a new coal mine for steel production on the outskirts of Whitehaven in Cumbria on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Sizewell C said: "We note today's announcement and await the government’s decision."