More hurdles for Hinkley

2 September 2016

Five labour union representatives in the Electricite de France (EDF) board of directors on 31 August filed a legal complaint in an attempt to annul approval of the Hinkley Point C NPP project in southwest England. The EDF board announced its decision on 28 July but the new UK government then refused to approve the project, saying it planned to review it again in “early autumn”. In a joint statement, three unions – CGT, CFE-CGC and FO – alleged that the French government and EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy knew about the UK’s intentions to take additional time to review the project. "Some board members found out that they had not received the same level of information as the CEO and government representatives" the unions said. Under these conditions, there was “no justification to rush” the decision during the board meeting and “intentionally hide this important information”.

The legal complaint raised to France’s Commercial Court is therefore based on denying the right to equal information to the representatives of EDF’s workforce, the unions said. Last month, the High Court of Paris rejected a request by EDF’s Central Works Council to suspend the Hinkley Point decision. EDF said at the time that Lévy had “no knowledge” of the intention of the UK government to hold a further review of the Hinkley Point project. Lévy was also quoted as saying that he would take legal action against the Sud Energie union for communicating “inaccurate claims”.  

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Theresa May is visiting China to try to allay concerns about UK-Chinese relations. Chinese nuclear company China Nuclear General had agreed to finance a third of the GBP18bn ($24bn) Hinkley plant. Critics have argued that the project is too expensive and the technology is unproven (Areva’s EPR reactors under construction in Finland and France are both delayed and over-budget). They have also raised concern about China’s involvement. 

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