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France’s energy minister expresses doubts over UK nuclear power project

16 May 2016

In an interview with the Financial Times, French energy minister Ségolène Royal said she was worried at the impact the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear project would have on the balance sheet of state-owned utility EDF, which will make a final decision whether or not to go ahead with the project in September.

She warned of the “colossal” cost of the project to EDF, saying the state-owned utility may have been “carried away” with its British investment.

The French government has an 85% stake in EDF and recently announced it was putting aside £2.7bn for “extreme scenarios” relating to the project, meaning the total bill could rise to more than £20bn.

Royal said that she had asked EDF to show her that the Hinkley Point project would not come at the expense of future investments in renewable energy in France, and was waiting for their reply.

She dismissed the point made by French economy minister Emmanuel Macron that going back on the agreement would damage the French nuclear sector, but did admit that withdrawing from the deal might damage the French state’s reputation.

Hinkley Point C has faced repeated delays and faces opposition from EDF’s trade unions and some of the group’s managers. Its chief financial officer resigned over the project earlier this year.

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