Surprise decision to place Somerset nuclear power plant on next week’s board agenda

EDF is set to make a final investment decision on the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant next week.

The French energy giant said it has called a board meeting for next Thursday in which “the final investment decision for the construction of two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C” will be on the agenda.

The move will come as a welcome surprise for contractors and consultants working on the Somerset scheme, with a final investment decision previously not expected to be made for another two months.

According to market sources, EDF had previously informed contractors that a decision would not be made until early September.

In reference to the reported divisions within EDF about Hinkley, the firm also said that since 2013 the project has been the subject of a “significant sharing of information with employees and their representatives, illustrating the commitment of the company to quality social dialogue.”

It added: “In line with this, EDF announced on April 22, 2016, that the Central Works Council would be consulted on the terms of the partnership with [China General Nuclear] for the HPC project, in the framework of an information and consultation process which began on May 2 and which concluded on July 4, 2016.”

EDF said first concrete, i.e. the start of construction work, on the first reactor for Hinkley is set to begin in mid-2019, to “coincide with perfect continuity with the start-up of the EPR” at its highly-delayed Flamanville nuclear power plant in northern France, which is scheduled for the end of 2018.