French Socialists Raise Doubts About Hinkley Point Project

  • Party takes more skeptical stance than Socialist Government
  • Party says ‘all doubts must be raised’ about costly project

France’s Socialist Party said a full review of the Hinkley Point project is needed before any decision is taken to build the British nuclear power plant, in effect siding with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May over France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande.

“The Socialist Party believes that such an important project that could have such major impact on the solidity and continuity of the national energy company requires that all doubts be lifted and all questions answered before it goes ahead,” the party said in a statement published on its website.

Electricite de France SA’s board has approved the 18-billion pound ($23.7 billion) project to build Britain’s first nuclear power plant in more than 20 years, and the French government supports the project. A signing ceremony for the project had been planned for July 29, but May, following a trip to Paris last month, said that the British government will carry out another review this fall before making a decision.

There has also been opposition in France over the cost of the project. In July a board member quit EDF in protest. In March the then-Chief Financial Officer Thomas Piquemal had resigned because of concerns the company’s balance sheet was too stretched to handle construction. And unions have gone to court to block the company’s decision.

Besides the financial doubts, the Socialist statement also raised the uncertainty following Britain’s plans to leave the European Union.

An official at the Socialist Party’s headquarters in Paris said there wasn’t anyone immediately available to explain why the party is taking a different position from the government. Spokespeople for Hollande, who no longer holds any position at the party, didn’t immediately respond to telephone messages.

Hinkley Point would take 10 years to build and is expected to satisfy about 7 percent of the U.K.’s power demand, providing enough electricity for about 5 million homes. May’s predecessor David Cameron backed the plan to create jobs and meet commitments to reduce British greenhouse gas emissions.

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