Friday 11 March 2016 3:05 pm

Hinkley Point C nuclear power station: EU gives EDF and China's CGN okay for £18bn project

The European Union's competition authority has given French utility giant EDF and Chinese nuclear firm CGN regulatory approval to build the controversial Hinkley Point C project.

Hinkley is being financed by the two companies and will cost around £18bn. However, there's rising concern over whether EDF's already stretched balance sheet will be able to absorb this.

"The commission's investigation found that competition in the wholesale supply of electricity in the UK will not be hindered by the transaction given the moderate market share of EDF, the very limited market shares of China General Nuclear in this market and the presence of other competitors," it said.

EDF, which expects to take a final investment decision soon, described the commission's decision as a "positive step" for the project.

"It shows that the robust agreements underpinning the project continue to pass independent scrutiny," it added.

CGN's involvement was agreed during Chinese president XI Jinping's visit to the UK in October. EDF owns a 66.5 per cent stake in Hinkley, while CGN has a 33.5 per cent slice.

"We have noticed that leaders of Britain and France pledged their support for the Hinkley Point project recently," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters today.

It comes a week after EDF's finance director, Thomas Piquema, resigned over the negative impact of the project on the company's already stretched balance sheet.

Today, France's top audit body, Cour des Comptes, warned EDF and its state shareholder should ask "serious questions" about the viability of the project.