Hinkley Point faces French union challenge

The long-awaited final decision by EDF on whether to go ahead with Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK is set to made tomorrow.

But the French company is facing a final and unexpected hurdle in the form of challenges from a domestic union.

A board meeting tomorrow was due to rubber-stamp the decision to build the multi-billion pound reactor in Somerset alongside Hinkley A and B.

However it seems that EDF’s major players will first have to pacify the CFE-CGC energy union, which is repres Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant ented on EDF’s board.

The union is said to have submitted 15 questions to the board, asking among other things whether EDF can afford to build the plant, what evidence there is that it can be completed on time, and how does it benefit French industry.

The CFE-CGC is concerned that going ahead with Hinkley will damage EDF, which has seen its share price tumble more than 50 per cent in the last year, resulting in the company dropping out of the top tier of the French stock market. It also wonders how Hinkley is going to be a success when other ongoing projects in Finland and France utilising the same EPR reactor technology have been dogged by delays and cost over-runs.

Hinkley opponent Greenpeace has seized on what it called the “unprecedented dissent and panic amongst the EDF board”.

Its chief scientist Doug Parr said: EDF and [UK chancellor] George Osborne might want us to think Hinkley is the newest and shiniest car in the showroom, but they are selling us a clapped out old banger that has failed its MOT three times already.

“The three EDF reactors that already exist in Finland, France and China haven’t even proved they can work. They use the same technology planned for Hinkley, but all three have faced severe delays and spiralling costs. EDF’s managers and employees are completely bewildered as to what makes EDF and the British government so confident that they are willing to bet billions of pounds on fourth time lucky.”

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