French and Spanish firms join forces to compete against German RWE/E.ON joint venture and EDF

French and Spanish energy giants GDF Suez and Iberdrola have teamed up to bid to build several nuclear power stations in the UK.

The firms announced they were bidding to secure sites around existing plants in Essex, Somerset, north Wales and Cumbria, which are being auctioned off by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Scottish and Southern Energy is also involved in the tender, and the consortium is understood to be talking to Vattenfall of Sweden about joining the partnership.

The Franco-Spanish alliance will be competing against two other European teams - French power company EDF, which has committed to building four new plants, and a joint venture of German firms RWE and E.ON.

Meanwhile, three new gas-fired power stations in Pembrokeshire, Yorkshire and Norfolk are expected to get the go-ahead from government today amid continuing criticism against a “lack of coherence” in energy policy.

Writing in the Financial Times, REW Npower chief executive Andrew Duff said: “Government and regulators continue to treat the big energy issues in isolation... The drive to set and meet ever more stringent CO2 targets is not integrated with the ministerial push to tackle energy costs and, vitally, the need to ensure security of supply.”

The new stations, which are unlikely to be all be up and running before 2016, will have a combined capacity of 4,000MW.