Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Nuclear plant deal for Britain within 'weeks'

Michael Fallon said he was "working intensely" to close a deal to build a reactor at Hinkley Point
Michael Fallon said he was "working intensely" to close a deal to build a reactor at Hinkley Point

The Government is within "weeks" of agreeing a contract to build Britain's first new nuclear plant in a generation, according to the Financial Times.

The newspaper reports that energy minister Michael Fallon said he was "working intensely" to close a deal to build a reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset after a lengthy negotiation process.

He told the FT: "We're not quite there yet, but I hope we will be in the next few weeks."

Mr Fallon suggested that a contract with French energy giant EDF would send a strong signal about Britain's long-term commitment to nuclear energy, and invite new investment opportunities.

He said that a number of East Asian investors, including South Korea, China and Japan, had already shown an interest in UK reactors, the FT reports.

"There's intense interest there because people can see that finally we're getting our civil nuclear programme moving again after the long dead Labour years," said Mr Fallon.

Talks with EDF stalled earlier this year after they could not agree on the so-called "strike price", the guaranteed price at which electricity can be sold.

China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, which signed a co-operation agreement with EDF, could claim a 49% stake in the £14 billion infrastructure project.

In his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester this week, Chancellor George Osborne said: "Should we, the country that built the first civil nuclear power station, say: 'We are never going to build any more - leave it to others'? Not on my watch."

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