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Hinkley Point nuclear power contract ‘may be invalid’ via BBC

The contract for building the UK’s first nuclear power station in a generation might not be “valid”, a leading legal academic has warned.

Former Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth, who lectures at Cambridge, said the deal with EDF over a plant at Hinkley Point could be seen as an “unjustifiable subsidy” under EU law.

The contract fixes a price for energy provided if the scheme goes ahead.

The government said the deal was “robust” and would give a “fair deal”.

The government announced last autumn that EDF, a French firm, would lead a consortium to build the Hinkley Point C station in Somerset, expected to supply around 7% of the UK’s electricity.

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But Mr Howarth told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was a “problem with whether this is a valid contract at all”.

He argued that, under EU law, its terms could be described as an “unjustifiable subsidy” and that “because the system doesn’t allow for non-British generators to come within it, it might be a violation of the basic principle of EU law of freedom of movement of goods”.

Mr Howarth added that English law could also be violated, as “the contract simply says what price it will get if it happens to supply a nuclear power station”, rather than compelling the company to build one.

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