The European Commission is to decide today whether controversial plans to build a government-backed nuclear power plant in Somerset will go ahead.
Proposals for the £16bn Hinkley Point plant, which will be built by French energy giant EDF, are being examined by the EC to establish whether the deal constitutes illegal aid.
If it goes ahead EDF will be offered a minimum price for the electricity produced at the plant – roughly twice the current wholesale price of power – and given a state credit guarantee of £10bn from the UK government.
The project is expected to provide seven per cent of Britain's power for the next six decades.
In December 2013, the EC raised doubts on almost all aspects of the project, stating that the "aid would in principle be incompatible under EU state aid rules".
And more recently European nations have waded into the issue.
Austria said earlier this week it would take the EC to court if Brussels gave the project the green light.
The country's chancellor Werner Faymann and vice-chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner reportedly sent a letter to EC president Jose Manuel Barroso last week saying Austria would “reserve” the right to take legal steps should the project gain a stamp of approval in Brussels.
“Should the EU Commission undertake this step, then it must expect a lawsuit at the highest court,” said Faymann. “Alternative forms of energy are worthy of subsidies, not nuclear energy.”
“Hinkley Point … would set a negative precedence to open this type of subsidy for nuclear energy. The EU Commission must prevent this, if not it must expect a lawsuit from Austria at the European Court of Justice,” Mitterlehner added.