Government approves Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant but with revised conditions

Jessica Morris
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Debate Continues into Future of UK Energy Generation
Prime Minister Theresa May decided to review Hinkley at the end of July (Source: Getty)

The government approved plans to build the controversial £18bn Hinkley Point C project, but with revised conditions.

The move, which paves the way for the UK's first new nuclear power plant in a generation, includes measures to ensure French utility giant EDF remains the controlling partner during the construction phase. Whitehall will also be able to intervene in the sale of EDF’s stake once Hinkley starts operating.

Prime Minister Theresa May decided to review the project at the end of July, shortly after she came to power, in regards to security concerns over Chinese involvement.

Read more: With Theresa May expected to give it the green light, is Hinkley Point just a colossal white elephant?

Greg Clark, secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said today: "Having thoroughly reviewed the proposal for Hinkley Point C, we will introduce a series of measures to enhance security and will ensure Hinkley cannot change hands without the government's agreement.

"Britain needs to upgrade its supplies of energy, and we have always been clear that nuclear is an important part of ensuring our future low-carbon energy security."

The government also said it will take a special share in all future new nuclear projects to prevent significant stakes being sold without its knowledge or consent.

Read more: Nuclear and renewables might keep the lights on – but nothing beats Britain’s home grown gas

The approval for Hinkley coincided with the announcement of a review into the UK's policy framework for the ownership and control of critical infrastructure. It aims to ensure a consistent approach to the evaluation national security implications.

Reports late last night suggested that government approval would come today — the last possible day for a statement to parliament before the House of Commons goes into recess so that MPs can attend the autumn party conferences.

Hinkley is expected to provide seven per cent of the UK's electricity over its estimated lifetime of 60 years, however the project has been dogged by concerns over safety, security and the high costs involved. It's due to start generating power in 2025, although experts have warned it is unlikely to meet this date.