Energy company says delays to French power plant won’t have bearing on Hinkley Point or Sizewell

EDF’s plan to build two nuclear power stations in the UK has come under increased scrutiny after the company admitted major delays and cost over-runs on a plant it is building in France.

The company is scheduled to begin construction of two new plants in Suffolk and Somerset in 2018 – as part of a programme worth £20bn.

However EDF’s proposed plant at Flamanville, in north-western France, is currently running four years over schedule and almost €3bn (£2.6bn) over budget.

The European pressurised reactor (EPR) will now open in 2016, instead of 2012, and will cost €6bn, as opposed to the original estimate of €3.3bn. Construction at the plant began in 2006.

Last year the company announced the plant would open in 2014 and cost €5bn.

Fears have now been raised that EDF’s nuclear build programme in the UK could also be subject to delays. A spokesperson for the company said problems at the French plant would have no bearing on the two UK projects.

EDF blamed the latest delays at Flamanville on what it termed ‘serious and economic reasons.’

The company said progress had slowed on the project because of two fatal on-site accidents and the fall-out from the Fukushima nuclear power plant explosion in Japan.

Just this week, parliament passed planning reform laws to allow nuclear plants win approval more quickly.