U.K. Says No Hinkley Decision as ITV Reports Green Light

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Hinkley Point B nuclear power station.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
  • ITV says May was due to agree on project with Hollande Monday
  • Reports deal will mean new contract to address China concerns

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s government said it has yet to take a decision on whether to go ahead with Electricite de France SA’s Hinkley Point nuclear power plant after ITV News reported that ministers are set to give it a green light.

“We’re looking at all the component parts of the decision,” May’s spokeswoman, Helen Bower, told reporters in London on Wednesday. “We’re committed to a decision by the end of the month. We will make that decision very shortly.”

May told French President Francois Hollande in July that she wanted more time to think about the 18 billion-pound ($24 billion) project and would make a decision in September. The government is looking at the cost of the project, which involves paying EDF billions of pounds in subsidies to operate the plant for 35 years. May was also reported by British media to have concerns about the involvement of China General Nuclear Power Corp. in financing the plant in southwest England.

ITV News said Wednesday that an announcement will be made before the end of the week, with a new contract to address the concerns about Chinese involvement. It said May had been due to call Hollande on Monday but held off over last-minute concerns raised by Business Secretary Greg Clark, whose department is responsible for energy.

Bower dismissed suggestions that the delay is linked to proposals for a Chinese-built nuclear plant at Bradwell in eastern England. “The contract that we’re looking at relates specifically to Hinkley,” she said.

EDF has said the development at Hinkley Point, the biggest Franco-British industrial project for a generation, is key to its preparations to replace aging French and British nuclear plants. China plans to provide a third of the financing as a precursor to other investments in the U.K.’s nuclear industry. Critics in the U.K. say the plan represents poor value for money for consumers.

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