The UK Government has given the final go-ahead for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station following a “new agreement” with EDF.
Ministers have imposed “significant new safeguards” under a new legal framework for future foreign investment.
The news follows Prime Minister Theresa May’s surprise announcement to pause the deal earlier this year amid concerns about Chinese involvement in Britain’s nuclear industry.
The revised agreement with EDF means the government will be able to prevent the sale of the energy firm’s controlling stake prior to the completion of the construction, without notification and agreement of ministers.
Existing legal powers and the new rules will mean the government is able to intervene in the sale of EDF’s stake once Hinkley is operational.
After Hinkley, the government will take a special share in all future nuclear new build projects, which will ensure that significant stakes cannot be sold without the government’s knowledge or consent.
The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) will be directed to require notice from developers or operators of nuclear sites of any change of ownership or part-ownership, “allowing the government to advise or direct the ONR to take action to protect national security as a result of a change in ownership”.
The nuclear plant is expected to provide 7% of the UK’s electricity needs.
The government is keeping a guaranteed price of £92.50 for every megawatt hour of electricity generated despite concerns that is far higher than the market rate.
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark said: “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. Consequently, we have decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation.
“Britain needs to upgrade its supplies of energy and we have always been clear that nuclear is an important part of ensuring our future low carbon energy security.”