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French energy firm EDF approves huge $27B U.K. nuclear power plant

The mammoth infrastructure project would create 25,000 jobs, and when finished, produce seven per cent of Britain's electricity

July 29, 2016  by Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press


The divisive nuclear energy project has resulted in top-ranks infighting at the French energy giant. PHOTO: EDF

PARIS—French energy company EDF July 28 gave the green light to a major nuclear power plant project in southwest England that some consider too costly, including one board member who announced his resignation.

As the company’s board met throughout the day, unions argued that the 24-billion-euro (US$27 billion) cost of the Hinkley Point project could put the company at risk. They even took legal action to try to delay the project.

Environmental activists oppose the project at a time when some countries, like Germany, are moving away from nuclear energy.

EDF is majority-owned by the French government, which supports the project. The two reactors could ultimately produce 7 per cent of British electricity and create 25,000 jobs, according to EDF.


One board member resigned Thursday to express disapproval of the project to build the reactors 165 miles (265 kms) west of London.

Gerard Magnin, who was among six people representing the French state on the EDF board, wrote in a letter seen by The AP: “I don’t want to endorse any longer a strategy that I don’t share.”

EDF did not immediately comment on Magnin’s resignation.

In March, one of EDF’s senior vice-presidents resigned. French media reported that Thomas Piquemal quit over concerns about the financing of the nuclear power plant.

John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace, urged the British government not to sign the deal.

EDF “can barely hold itself together,” he said in a statement. “Major figures are quitting in dissent, the company’s employees are up in arms and a similar reactor being built in France is under investigation by the French nuclear regulator.”

Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report

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