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EDF board members sue to overturn Hinkley Point plan
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Aug 31, 2016

EDF board members sue to overturn Hinkley Point plan
Paris (AFP) Aug 31, 2016 - Five employee representatives on EDF's board have filed a lawsuit to overturn the French power company's controversial decision to build nuclear reactors in Britain at Hinkley Point.

The employee representatives believe that EDF's chief executive "did not communicate crucial information about a major project" he was aware of before the July 28 meeting at which the board of directors approved the PND 18 billion project ($23.6 billion, 21.2 billion euro) plan to build Britain's first new nuclear reactors in decades, their law firm said Wednesday.

The lawsuit also protests against the participation of several directors "with conflicts of interests", said the law firm Alain Levy, adding that a date for a hearing should be set on September 5.

The lawsuit by the employee representatives follows legal efforts by several of EDF's unions to block and then overturn the approval of the project, which they consider a huge financial risk to the heavily indebted company.

That case is expected to go before a judge on September 22.

State-owned EDF's board of directors approved its participation in Hinkley Point on July 28, only for Britain's new government under Prime Minister Theresa May to announce several hours later that it wanted to review the project and would make a decision in several months.

In letter to the company's executives, EDF chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy acknowledged he had learned the day before that May "was asking for a little more time, without reassessing the project, without giving the date when it could be signed".

However the unions said that at the board meeting that "the British desire to proceed very quickly was again presented as a reason to quickly sign" the deal.

Levy has denied lying to board members, saying he was not aware that the British government would in fact announce hours later a review of the project.

The French government has been keen to get Hinkley Point approved as it sees the project as crucial for the long-term viability of France's nuclear industry, which employs 220,000 people.

Previous British governments have also been in favour because the reactors would cover up to seven percent of Britain's electricity needs while helping the government meet its CO2 emissions targets.

But British support is not unanimous, and criticism focuses on the growing difference between an electricity price guarantee for EDF, subsidised by the British taxpayer, and current falling energy prices.

There have also been national security concerns about Chinese involvement in the project -- Beijing has a one-third stake in the plan.

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