Reports say Iberdrola consortium has bowed out as government set to net £400m from nuclear land auction

The British government could make over £400m in the auction of land to build nuclear power stations, as prices skyrocketed on Tuesday forcing out one of the three dominant bidders, the Financial Times has reported.

French firm EDF and the German partnership of RWE and E.ON were left to battle it out alone after the consortium of Spain's Iberdrola, France's GDF Suez and the UK's Scottish & Southern Energy pulled out of the race.

The consortium is understood to have quit because the price of one of the three sites on offer, Bradwell in Essex, leaped from an original reserve of £40m to a bid of £160m on Tuesday, according to the Financial Times.

The strength of the competition is evidence of what promises to be the most lucrative European nuclear market for the near future.

The auction process is understood to be close to a conclusion, and could end today.

EDF occupies a leading position in the British nuclear industry following last year's £12.4bn takeover of British Energy, which owns most of the country's working nuclear power stations.

EDF has said it hopes to build four new-generation EPR reactors in Britain,

The Iberdrola/GDF/SSE consortium still hopes to build a reactor in the UK.