Britain gives the go-ahead for an £18 billion nuclear power plant, ending weeks of uncertainty that strained ties with China and France and put a question mark over Prime Minister Theresa May’s investment policy. Ivor Benentt reports.
Why did UK nuclear deal get green light?
It’ll be big, it’ll be powerful, but politically the negotiations over Hinkley Point were as delicate as it gets.
Britain’s first new nuclear power station in a generation, built by a French firm, backed by Chinese money.
There were fears that might pose a threat to national security.
But after a last-minute review, the UK has decided the deal will go ahead.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) UK BUSINESS MINISTER, GREG CLARK, SAYING:
“The government has looked very seriously at all components of the deal. Every aspect of it. And what we have concluded is that it is important to upgrade our energy supplies for the future.”
The plant will supply 7 percent of the UK’s energy over the next 60 years.
But building it now comes with some strings attached.
With EDF locked in as the operator until the plant is commissioned.
18 billion pounds is being poured into it.
One third of that coming from China.
But there are still questions over whether it’s worth it.
The UK agreeing to pay EDF more than twice the current wholesale price for the electricity.
SOUNDBITE (English) MIKE INGRAM, MARKET STRATEGIST, BGC PARTNERS, SAYING:
“Somebody probably had too big a lunch before that contract was signed. But the political reality of it, is that it was always going to be incredibly difficult to back out of it. Particularly in an environment where we need to keep France on board for the Brexit negotiations, we’re seeking to do more business with China once we leave the European Union.”
More business and no doubt more lunches.
From now on, though, the government says any similar deal will get the same scrutiny.
Before it’s signed, not after.