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France's EDF to decide on UK nuclear project next week

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French energy giant EDF will decide next week whether to give the final green light to the controversial construction of two nuclear reactors in Britain, it said in a statement Thursday.

[LONDON] French energy giant EDF will decide next week whether to give the final green light to the controversial construction of two nuclear reactors in Britain, it said in a statement Thursday.

"EDF has today called a meeting of its Board of Directors which will be held on 28 July 2016," said the statement, published on the group's website.

"The agenda includes the final investment decision for the construction of two EPR (Electron paramagnetic resonance) reactors... in the south-west of England."

The planned nuclear plant at Hinkley Point has been billed as a crucial part of Britain's future energy supply, but critics say it is too expensive.

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The so-called HPC project between EDF, which is 85 per cent owned by the French state, and China General Nuclear Power Corporation carries a projected price tag of £18 billion (S$33 billion), making it one of the world's most costly nuclear power plants.

Unions at the majority state-owned EDF have sought to delay committing to the project due to concerns that it could bankrupt the company, which has more than 37 billion euros in debt.

The French firm said the project "would strengthen EDF's presence in Britain" and enable the group to "mobilise all its significant nuclear engineering skills following the final investment decision."

"HPC is a unique asset for French industry as it would benefit the whole of the nuclear industry and support employment in major companies and smaller enterprises in the sector," it said Thursday.

France's finance minister Michel Sapin said last month that Britain's decision to quit the European Union had made the project "more difficult."

"We have to see where we are, we have to recover our balance. Brexit has made waves," Mr Sapin said on BBC's Newsnight programme.

AFP

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