Somerset

Hinkley nuclear power plant recommended for approval

View of Hinkley Point C with Hinkley Point A and B in the background Image copyright EDF Energy
Image caption The European Commission has investigated whether the power price deal broke EU subsidy rules

Plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset have been recommended for approval following a European Commission investigation.

Since December, the commission has been examining whether funding for the £16bn plant, to be built by developers EDF Energy, broke state aid rules.

Hinkley Point C would be the first new nuclear power station to be built in Britain since 1995.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have called the commission's decision a "U-turn".

Antoine Colombani, commission spokesman for competition and for vice-president Joaquin Almunia, said: "Our discussions with the UK authorities have led to an agreement.

'Vital project'

"On this basis, vice-president Almunia will propose to the college of commissioners to take a positive decision in this case. In principle a decision should be taken within this mandate."

A spokesman for EDF said the recommendation was "another positive step forward for this vital project".

"Hinkley Point C is an important project which will deliver Europe-wide objectives, offering the prospect of reliable, secure and low-carbon electricity for many decades to come as well as boosting jobs and skills."

Andrea Carta from Greenpeace said: "If competition commissioner Almunia has backed state aid for Hinkley, it risks a backroom deal prevailing over the rule of law.

"Only a year ago the Commission said that Hinkley was 'in principle incompatible under EU state aid rules'.

'Controversial decision'

"Now, under pressure from the UK government and French nuclear operator EDF, the commission is preparing to perform a U-turn.

"European commissioners should oppose the plan and resist rushing through a controversial and far-reaching decision in the dying weeks of this commission."

Gary Smith of the GMB union said: "We lobbied the commission to move ahead on this important project for the UK economy, so we are very pleased at this latest development and look forward to the recommendation being accepted."

The recommendation must now be approved by the commission's College of Commissioners in the next few weeks.

A final decision is expected in October.

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