French court supports Hinkley decision as Chinese concerns increase

11 August 2016

EDF said in a statement on its website on 8 August that it welcomed a decision by the High Court of Paris to reject a request by EDF’s Central Works Committee to suspend the board’s 28 July decision to approve the Hinkley Point C NPP project in the UK, which is to be built by EDF. Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF chairman and CEO, said in the statement that he will take legal action against the Sud Energie union.

In a statement on 5 August, the union “inaccurately claimed” that Lévy had lied to journalists when he confirmed he had not known before the board meeting of the UK government’s decision to conduct a further review of Hinkley Point. EDF and its chairman will take similar action against all those who communicate such inaccuracies, EDF said. When the board meeting was held, EDF and Lévy had “no knowledge” of the UK government’s intnetion. “All that was known before the press statement issued by the British government on 28 July was that the signing ceremony originally proposed for Friday 29 July would be postponed,” EDF said.

Meanwhile, China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, in an article for the Financial Times, said relations with the UK are at a “crucial historical juncture” amid doubts over the future of Hinkley Point. “If Britain’s openness is a condition for bilateral co-operation, then mutual trust is the very foundation on which this is built,” he wrote. He said the project is at the centre of the UK’s evolving trade relationship with China. “Right now, the China-UK relationship is at a crucial historical juncture. Mutual trust should be treasured even more. I hope the UK will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point – and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly.”

The Guardian said on 9 August that UK prime minister Theresa May is thought to have ordered the delay because of concerns about the role of China General Nuclear, which has a one-third stake in the Hinkley project. Comments by May’s chief of staff, Nick Timothy, last year suggest that the delay was prompted by concerns that Chinese state-owned companies were being allowed to invest in sensitive infrastructure, The Guardian said.



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