Power plant decision is no closer

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C.

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C. - Credit: Archant

Government officials say there is still “no indication” of when Prime Minister Theresa May will make a final decision on the proposals for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

Meanwhile, there is growing speculation that the delay could mean that proposals for the Sizewell C – which is dependent on Hinkley being built – and Bradwell plants being dropped altogether.

It is said Mrs May’s concern hinges on the involvement of China in the projects, although she has also written of her desires for closer business and trading ties between Britain and the Far East country, the world’s second-biggest economy.

When she called in Hinkley Point C for review the day after EDF Energy announced it had agreed the crucial Final Investment Decision after a year of delays, it was said the review would be concluded and an announcement made “in the autumn”.

With September beginning tomorrow, business leaders are hoping that decision will come sooner rather than later in the season.

Questioned on the timetable for the review and its progress, a spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said that there was no further information available at the moment.

He said: “There is no indication of when the decision is expected to come out – at the moment all we can repeat is that it will be in the autumn.”

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There has been speculation in the industry that one option being looked at by senior civil servants and Government ministers is to approve Hinkley Point C but then put the Sizewell and Bradwell reactors on hold to allow further investigation and consideration of how allowing China a stake in the British nuclear industry would impact on UK security.

However, there is deep concern that China could pull out if Hinkley was split from the agreement.

EDF officials say the long-awaited second stage of consultation on Sizewell C will not start until Hinkley is approved. The delay has already proved frustrating for people in communities across east Suffolk keen to know more details about key issues such as transport improvements and the accommodation campus site.

Meanwhile, the company and council officials are talking about how long the consultation will last.

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