Having put the project on hold in July, prime minister Theresa May has today confirmed the construction of the reactor – which is expected to provide seven per cent of Britain’s electricity for 60 years – will take place following “new agreement in principle with EDF”.
Following a thorough review of the project, which will create around 26,000 jobs and apprenticeships, May also announced “significant new safeguards” for future foreign investment in critical infrastructure, which will include nuclear energy and apply after Hinkley.
The agreement in principle with EDF means the government will be able to prevent the sale of EDF’s controlling stake prior to the completion of construction, without the prior notification and agreement of ministers.
According to a government statement, the new legal framework for future foreign investment in British critical infrastructure will mean that after Hinkley, the British Government will take a special share in all future nuclear new build projects. This will ensure that significant stakes cannot be sold without the Government’s knowledge or consent.
The statement said there would be reforms to the approach to the “ownership and control of critical infrastructure to ensure that the full implications of foreign ownership are scrutinised for the purposes of national security”.
It said the changes “will bring Britain’s policy framework for the ownership and control of critical infrastructure into line with other major economies” and allow the UK Government to “introduce a consistent approach to considering the national security implications of all significant investments in critical infrastructure, including nuclear energy, in the future.”
Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “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.
“Consequently, we have decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation.
“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.”