The chief executive of EDF Energy, Vincent De Rivaz, says the final investment decision on Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant is close to hand following rigorous planning, but took aim at what he called ‘doubters and procrastinators’ whose ends were to derail the project.
Mr De Rivaz said at a visit to Dungeness nuclear power plant that rigorous scrutiny of the project has: "helped us to improve our plans and bring us to the brink of a Final Investment Decision.”
The decision which has been delayed by two years is predicted to be made next month when the President of China, Xi Jinping visits Britain.
Speaking at the visitor centre at Dungeness B nuclear power station in Kent on Tuesday he professed gratitude for the rightful scrutiny the project has been subjected to "from Parliament, the European Commission, the regulator, the unions, from our workforce, suppliers, customers, partners and many other stakeholders."
He continued: "We are approaching the Final Investment Decision for our new nuclear project Hinkley Point C. As we do, scrutiny has naturally increased. Just as we embrace transparency, we welcome scrutiny. We relish challenge based on facts. Be in no doubt – Hinkley Point C is a vast undertaking.”
"New nuclear is good for Britain and Hinkley Point C is the first step in the journey. So we need to get it right. This analysis has been conducted through a rigorous, comprehensive and exhaustive set of processes which has taken the best part of a decade.”
" The processes are led by responsible and accountable people who concluded that it is an investment which Britain needs and that it is based on a good deal and a strong project.”
De Rivaz paid tribute to the resilience being shown in pushing the project through as overseen by three Prime Ministers and eight Secretaries of State.
"Short-term events have not changed the long-term case on which this project was based and its price deemed fair. The market price today is similar – even if it has decreased a little - to where it was two years ago when the price for Hinkley point C was agreed and welcomed.”
"Yet it seems to me that great infrastructure projects in this country often face scepticism in the final stages of development. It happened to Crossrail, the Channel Tunnel and Heathrow's Terminal 5.”
"For me, this is a great pity. Britain's infrastructure would be all the weaker if its leaders had allowed the doubters and procrastinators to derail those projects. The moment when we move from discussion and rhetoric into delivery is the time for courage and leadership."
One of the biggest sticks for critics to use on the project is the fact that the facility’s European Pressurised Reactor design has not yet been shown to be successful, but de Rivaz dismissed that concern, saying, "Again, I want to be clear. Our project is based on proven technology . Britain is buying the best and the safest.”
Meanwhile overall EDF Group Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy said on Tuesday that the company would not be seeking power generation acquisitions in the immediate future, due to current debt factors.
"This is no longer the time for EDF to carry out acquisitions of major power generation groups." Levy said. "Now it is about focusing and savings."
He added that EDF would be refocusing its investments following a period of expansion that included major acquisitions in the United States, Germany and Italy with mixed results.