Assurances for Sizewell after referendum vote

Sizewell C

Sizewell C - Credit: Copyright EDF Energy 2012 - Stag

Government ministers involved in plans for a new multi-billion pound nuclear power station in Suffolk have issued firm commitments in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European EU.

The recent Brexit referendum vote prompted some Government advisors to speculate that the economic uncertainty facing the nation meant it was “extremely unlikely” the French energy giant EDF would invest in its planned projects in the UK - Hinkley Point and Sizewell C.

Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, chairman of the Commons energy and climate select committee said Hinkley is “bedevilled by uncertainty”.

And Joan Girling, of Together Against Sizewell C, said the vote had created “another complication for what is an already outdated and explosively expensive project”.

More recent comments, however, have seen UK and French government ministers make assurances over their commitment to the already long-delayed project in Somerset, which is considered to be the trigger for progressing the £16 billion dual-reactor plant on the Suffolk coast.

Energy minister Andrea Leadsom told the energy and climate change committee last week that the Hinkley Point C decision will not be influenced by the outcome of the country’s vote to leave the EU

“I do not believe (the Hinkley Point project) will be influenced by the results of the referendum,” she said,

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French finance minister Michel Sapin told Newnight that his government and EDF are still determined e to put the Hinkley Point agreement into force.

Segolene Royal, the French energy minister directly refuted claims that the project was in jeopardy, saying they were “not right at all”. “Commitments have been made, partnerships have been established, energy agreements have been made,” he added in a BBC interview.

“EDF which will be recapitalised by the French Government is involved, and so we will abide by our commitments.”

The assurances follow comments made by Bernard-Levy, the EDF chairman immediately after the referendum, when he said: “Our business strategy is not linked to Great Britain’s political affiliation with the European Union, so we have no reason to change it.

Mr Bernard-Levy said that although the pound may fall in value “the economy becomes more competitive”. “I think we need to adapt to economic conditions and to exchange rates, which can evolve,” he added.