by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jan 23, 2015
Britain will have a "special share" in the French-led new Hinkley Point nuclear power plant consortium to safeguard national security, British energy officials told a parliamentary hearing this week.
"The UK will have a special share in the consortium," energy minister Ed Davey said on Wednesday when asked about safeguards for the project, which is led by French giant EDF and should include Chinese partners.
The Chinese firms, CGN and CNNC, are expected to get a stake of between 30 and 40 percent.
Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary to the energy department said the share "will allow us, under certain circumstances, to step in and make certain decisions around the project that would be specifically designed to protect national security.
"There are other protections we have designed in association with other than government, including the agencies, about the nationality of the people who are capable of working on the site and so on," Lovegrove said, referring to Britain's secret services.
Asked by lawmakers whether he had any concern about possible Chinese involvement, Davey said: "We have always made clear there is no bar to Chinese investment into the UK's nuclear industry".
Britain has placed nuclear at the heart of its low-carbon energy policy in stark contrast to Europe's biggest economy Germany, which has vowed to phase out nuclear power in the wake of Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster.
The Hinkley Point contract is worth £16 billion.
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