The 14 Words

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Subsidies for UK nuclear plant could reach £17bn and 'may be unnecessary'

European Commission probes whether subsidies are needed for EDF's Hinkley Point plant in Somerset and warns they could cost £17bn - more than the plant itself

British consumers could pay £17bn in potentially unnecessary subsidies to fund construction of the country's first new nuclear plant in a generation, the European Commission has said.

The EC said it was assessing whether the planned subsidies for Hinkley Point in Somerset - which could exceed the £16bn cost of the plant itself - were needed at all, or whether energy companies would build the plant anyway without a penny of public support.

Ministers in October signed a landmark deal with energy giant EDF to fund the construction of the plant, which would see consumers pay billions of pounds in subsidies to the French company for decades to come.

On Wednesday the Commission opened a formal investigation into "whether the construction of a nuclear power station could not be achieved by market forces alone, without state intervention".

The Commission said its investigation, which threatens to delay or derail the plant altogether, will assess whether UK plans "to subsidise the construction and operation" of the plant are in line with EU state aid rules.

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