Hinkley contract signed

The British government, EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) have signed the final agreement to build Hinkley Point C nuclear power station at a ceremony in London.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said it marked “a significant step forward for a new era of nuclear power in the UK”.

The Contract for Difference and Secretary of State Investor Agreement were signed business and energy secretary Greg Clark, EDF chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy and CGN chairman He Yu.

The event was also attended by French foreign affairs and international development minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and the head of China’s National Energy Administration Nur Bekri.

“Signing the Contract for Difference for Hinkley Point C is a crucial moment in the UK’s first new nuclear power station for a generation and follows new measures put in place by government to strengthen security and ownership,” said Clark.

“Britain needs to upgrade its supplies of energy, and we have always been clear that nuclear power stations like Hinkley play an important part in ensuring our future low-carbon energy security.”

Yu said: “The signing of these agreements signifies CGN’s commitment to the UK as one of the world’s leading developers and operators of nuclear power. This flagship programme is a triple win for China, Britain, and France and is a culmination of years of cooperation between the three countries.

“CGN looks forward to providing UK consumers with safe, reliable and sustainable energy and maximising opportunities for UK suppliers and the UK workforce.”

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “Hinkley Point C will kickstart Britain’s nuclear revival. It has overcome obstacles and challenges which will benefit our next nuclear projects in Britain.

“This huge investment has been made possible by the consistent policies of successive governments to provide secure, affordable, low carbon electricity. I want to thank our team, our suppliers, trade unions and the people of Somerset for their dedication, determination and patience. Their support has been vital to our success.”

The government gave its final go-ahead for the new nuclear plant in Somerset earlier this month, after conducting a review of the terms of the agreement over the summer. The review was unexpectedly launched in July just hours after EDF made a final investment decision on the project.

The terms of the deal were revised by the government to prevent EDF from selling its controlling stake in the £18 billion project prior to the completion of construction, unless they have the consent of ministers. Existing laws and a “new legal framework” will prevent the French supplier from doing so once it is operational, Clark said at the time.