Suffolk: Prime Minister set to discuss N-plant deal with French president

Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

David Cameron is expected to enter talks today that could speed up plans to bring a new nuclear power station to Suffolk.

The Prime Minister will meet French President François Hollande, and is due to discuss the ongoing negotiations between the UK Government and French energy giant EDF Energy over the nuclear building programme – which remain deadlocked.

Last night, Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey said she hoped any talks would be successful and help pave the way for the new Sizewell C twin reactor.

The company, of which the French government is a main shareholder, has gained planning permission for a new reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset and is also consulting on the Sizewell proposals. But EDF has said the £14billion investment needed is not commercially viable unless the Government can guarantee a minimum price for the electricity generated.

Talks with the company stalled after EDF reportedly asked for a “strike price” of almost £100 per megawatt hour. The plans also suffered a blow earlier this year when major investor Centrica pulled out.

Dr Coffey said: “This is a very important thing, not only for the economic development of our local area in terms of Sizewell C but also nationally, so it would seem sensible for the Prime Minister to get involved.

“The French Government is the main shareholder of EDF so I am not surprised if this has come up on the agenda for their talks.”

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Dr Coffey said it was “sensible” that time was being taken to reach an agreement, adding: “It’s a big commitment on each side. The ‘strike price’ should be unique to each project and the current negotiations are specifically for Hinkley, but it could be an important indicator for other projects including Sizewell C, even though that is still some way off.

“I don’t think either side wants to walk away from this but it’s a case of finding an appropriate level of reward for both sides.”

Last month Energy and Climate Change Committee chairman and South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo said nuclear was an essential part of the UK’s energy mix.

But he expressed concerns that the negotiations between the Government and the EDF were at “crisis point”.

He said if the talks failed, it could be 12 years before any new nuclear power stations, including Sizewell C, were built in the UK.

Lord Deighton, who delivered the Olympic Games to Britain, has also been tasked with re-igniting discussions with EDF.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson told the EADT last night that negotiations with the company were “ongoing”.

He said: “DECC has always led the negotiations with EDF and continues to do so. Lord Deighton is the lead Minister at the Treasury and has been working alongside DECC. (Permanent Secretary at the Department of Energy and Climate Change) Stephen Lovegrove is leading on negotiations at DECC.”