EDF in talks over the possibility of the government underwriting the Hinkley Point nuclear project

EDF Energy has asked the Treasury to guarantee some of the costs of the new nuclear reactors it plans build in the UK, in a move aimed at bolstering the ailing nuclear new build programme.

According to the Financial Times, talks are at an early stage between EDF and the government over the possibility of the firm’s new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Somerset being backed by a government guarantee, under the UK Guarantees scheme.

The Financial Times said formal talks would only begin once the two sides had agreed on a fixed price for the nuclear power generated at Hinkley.

The move comes after a series of blows to the new build nuclear programme, with Cumbria county council this month vetoing plans to establish a long-term nuclear waste storage site in the area, and Centrica pulling out of the new build programme.

The UK Guarantees scheme is aimed at underwriting up to £40bn of infrastructure investments, with the object of kickstarting critical projects that are struggling to access private finance.

The Treasury has received more than 75 enquiries from the private sector about the scheme, with the first guarantee unveiled last year for a £1bn order for rolling stock to be used on Crossrail.

In December, the chancellor George Osborne also said the proposed Northern line extension to Battersea power station would also be underwritten through the scheme.