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Labour seeks probe of Hinkley Point C nuclear project via The Financial Times

Labour has called for the proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point to be referred to the Whitehall auditor to examine whether the £24.5bn project will offer the best possible deal for taxpayers.
Tom Greatrex, shadow energy minister, said the National Audit Office should scrutinise a 35-year subsidy deal to ensure that it represents value for money.
The NAO is loath to carry out a report ahead of the project’s final sign-off for fear that it could “adversely impact” on any agreement, but Mr Greatrex urged it to carry out the exercise immediately.
The fate of Hinkley Point C in Somerset is crucial to Britain’s energy supply because it is expected to generate 7 per cent of the country’s electricity once it is completed by 2023 at the earliest. This autumn the project received the go-ahead from Brussels after clearing a state aid inquiry.
EDF, the French government-backed company building the reactor, will own half of the project but has not yet secured all of its co-investors.
It was announced in October 2013 that two Chinese state entities – China General Nuclear Power Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation – would take a stake of about 35 per cent while Areva, the engineering group, would take 10 per cent.
At the same time EDF is still seeking another investor and is talking to sovereign wealth funds, Saudi Electric and at least one large financial institution.
The investment deal was supposed to be finalised by last summer, but the timing has slipped to early next year, with officials blaming the lengthy Brussels inquiry.
Shares in Areva fell sharply this week after the state-controlled nuclear company suspended its financial targets for the next two years and said it was reviewing its funding plans. The group blamed continuing delays to its Finnish reactor project, the later than expected restart of Japanese reactors and a sluggish broader nuclear market.
That has prompted speculation that Areva’s woes could jeopardise its commitment to Hinkley Point C.

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