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Hinkley Point nuclear project 'very important', says French minister

Published 17/04/2016

The British Government has insisted that plans to build the Hinkley Point C reactor will go ahead
The British Government has insisted that plans to build the Hinkley Point C reactor will go ahead

The French government has stressed its commitment to building Britain's first new nuclear power station in a generation.

There has been uncertainty over whether the state-owned French power company EDF will sign off on the £18 billion project at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

However Emmanuel Macron, the French economy minister, told the BBC that rubber-stamping the contract would be "very important" for France and the company and hinted that progress will be made in the near future.

The British Government has insisted that plans to build the Hinkley Point C reactor will go ahead and voiced its intention to commission additional nuclear plants before 2020.

However Labour has raised concerns over an apparent lack of a viable plan B should the French government back away from a deal in Somerset.

In March, EDF's chief financial officer quit amid reports of a disagreement at the firm's top level over the timing of a final decision on the project and the potential impact it would have on the firm and the French economy.

Mr Macron said: "We back Hinkley Point project, it's very important for France, it's very important for the nuclear sector and EDF.

"Now we have to finalise the work, and especially the technical and industrial work, very closely with EDF, with the British Government, to be in a situation to sign in the coming week or more."

The minister said it was his personal view and "our perspective" that the deal would be signed off.

"I think it's very important for our commitment to nuclear energy," he added.

After a summit in France in February, Prime Minister David Cameron and French president Francois Hollande issued a communique that said there had been "major progress" in recent months "with a view to confirming the project".

EDF also said it will extend the life of four of its UK nuclear power stations by between five and seven years.

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