Civil servants consider delaying a decision on planned China-built Essex reactor

The government is considering splitting development of Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant from a planned China-built reactor in Essex.

The proposal is one of the options being looked at by Theresa May as part of her last gasp review of the £18bn Hinkley project, according to the Times.

Under the existing outline deal between client EDF and the government, China would help fund Hinkley Point C in Somerset before taking over and building reactors in Bradwell, Essex, and Sizewell, Suffolk.

EDF made a long-awaited final investment decision to build Hinkley Point C in July, only for May’s new government to order a review of the project amid reported security concerns over China’s role in delivering key UK infrastructure.

Officials in Whitehall are mulling approving Hinkley Point C but delaying a decision on the Bradwell reactor to allow further consideration of its effect on British security, according to the Times.

Any such move could threaten the whole deal as China wants to showcase its nuclear technology to Europe at Bradwell.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, EDF’s UK chief executive Vincent de Rivaz called on the UK to embrace Chinese involvement in Hinkley. He said there were “enormous benefits for the UK” to working with a country with the largest civil nuclear programme in the world.