Secretary of state to take more time to consider proposals for Suffolk nuclear plant

The future of the planned Sizewell C nuclear plant remains in the balance after the government delayed an expected decision on its approval.

An announcement on the £20bn scheme had been expected by Friday but business minister Paul Scully instead set a new deadline for deciding the application.

The delay comes after the French government revealed its intention to nationalise EDF, the energy company behind the planned power station in Suffolk.

Sizewell C

Sizewell C would be a near replica of the Hinkley Point C plant being built in Somerset

The minister said a decision would be made no later than 20 July, the second time it has been pushed back, having originally been planned for 25 May.

“This is to ensure there is sufficient time to allow the secretary of state to consider the proposal,” said Scully.

The government provided a cash injection of £100m into the Sizewell project, which would provide 7% of the UK’s energy needs, earlier this year and could take a 20% stake in the project.

The project was given a further boost in April when the government announced its ambition to approve a new nuclear reactor every year until 2030 as part of its new energy security strategy.

Alison Downes, part of campaign group Stop Sizewell C, said it would have been “farcical” if a decision on Sizewell C had been made today.

She added: “We also hope that announcements of EDF’s re-nationalisation have given ministers pause, especially when EDF’s parlous finances are at least in part down to their disastrous track record at building the type of reactors proposed for Sizewell C.”

The two-reactor Sizewell C plant would be a near replica of the Hinkley Point C plant currently being developed by EDF in Somerset.

Hinkley, which is being built by Laing O’Rourke, Bouygues and Balfour Beatty, has been beset by delays and cost rises since it was first conceived and is now expected to open nearly two years late and £7bn over budget.