Britain's Hinkley Point contract set to be signed

The Hinkley Point C nuclear power station site is seen near Bridgwater in Britain.
The Hinkley Point C nuclear power station site is seen near Bridgwater in Britain.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - The contract with a French-Chinese consortium to build Britain's first nuclear power plant in a generation is to be signed in London on Thursday (Sept 29) at a ceremony that is being kept low key, sources said.

Following a delay over concerns about China's involvement in the deal, Britain earlier this month gave the green light for the construction of the £18 billion (S$31.9 billion) complex.

But it set the condition that EDF pledge not to cede majority control of the project.

The signing follows the approval on Tuesday by the board of French energy company EDF of the new conditions set by the British government for the controversial project to go forward.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May caused shockwaves in July by ordering a review of the deal on security concerns given the involvement of Beijing's state-run China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN).

EDF, which is majority-owned by the French state, is to finance 66.5 per cent of the construction of Hinkley Point and CGN 33.5 per cent.

The project is strongly opposed by environmentalists.

"The UK government is about to sign away billions of pounds of billpayers' money to a project bedevilled by legal, financial and technical hurdles," said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK.

"Theresa May cannot build a 21st-century industrial strategy around an outdated, dodgy, and ludicrously expensive technology," he said.