Hinkley legal bid fails as China urges government decision

09 August 2016

The High Court of Paris on 5 August rejected a request by EDF's Central Works Council to suspend the final investment decision for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project in the UK. Meanwhile, China's ambassador to the UK has called for the UK government to make a prompt decision on the project.

In a statement, EDF said it welcomed the court's decision. The Central Works Council submitted its request to the court on 28 July - the same day as the EDF board of directors agreed to go ahead with the £18 billion ($23.6 billion) project to construct two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

In addition, EDF said its chairman and CEO, Jean-Bernard Lévy, plans to bring legal action against the Sud Energie union which claimed he was aware ahead of the board meeting that the UK government planned to conduct a further review of the Hinkley Point C project.

EDF said the union issued a statement on 5 August which "inaccurately claimed that he had lied to journalists when he confirmed he had not known before the meeting".

However, the company said an internal email of 2 August from Lévy to members of the executive committee "confirms unambiguously" that neither EDF nor Lévy had any knowledge of the UK government's intention to conduct a further review.

"All that was known before the press statement issued by the British government on 28 July was that the signing ceremony originally proposed for Friday 29 July would be postponed," EDF said. "This potential date of signature had not been confirmed, and therefore had not been communicated either to the board nor the market. There was therefore no requirement to communicate its postponement."

In a 29 July letter to staff, EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said, "The very good news is that we are ready. The board's decision means that when the government is ready to go ahead, we are ready too." He noted, "Inevitably critics of the project will continue to be vocal in the intervening weeks."

Chinese ambassador calls for decision

Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK, said in a letter published in the Financial Times yesterday that the UK government must come to a decision on the Hinkley Point C project as soon as possible.

He pointed out that nuclear energy - with its "low operational costs, mature maintenance technologies and steady output - is a significant option for meeting the UK's demand for electricity". Liu also noted that the Hinkley Point C project "is not the result of some whimsical idea or rushed decision. It is the considered outcome of a mutually beneficial tripartite partnership between Britain, France and China." He also said the UK "could not have a better partner" than China General Nuclear, which has agreed to take a 33.5% stake in the project.

"Right now, the China-UK relationship is at a crucial historical juncture. Mutual trust should be treasured even more," Liu said. "I hope the UK will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point - and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News