Britain gave the go head on Thursday for a $24 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.
In a statement, her government said it had decided to proceed with the Hinkley Point C project in central England after a comprehensive review, but was clear Britain would have greater control over future deals when foreign states were involved in buying stakes in “critical infrastructure”.
May stunned investors by putting Hinkley on hold in July, just hours before a deal was to be signed, saying she needed time to asses the project that would see French utility firm EDF build Britain’s first new nuclear reactor in decades, backed by $8 billion of Chinese cash.
“Having thoroughly reviewed the proposal for Hinkley Point C, we will introduce a series of measures to enhance security and will ensure Hinkley cannot change hands without the government’s agreement,” Greg Clark, business minister, said in a statement.
“Consequently, we have decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation.”
The French government welcomed Britain’s decision.
“This marks a major milestone in Franco-British industrial and energy cooperation,” French Economy minister Michel Sapin said in a statement.
Sapin called the project “good news” for the French nuclear industry and said it would showcase its nuclear technology globally.
China too welcomed Britain’s decision
China hopes that with the hard work of China, Britain and France, Hinkley Point and other subsequent nuclear cooperation projects can proceed smoothly as fast as possible, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.