China’s state-owned nuclear energy company could be blocked from all future power projects in the UK as ministers investigate ways to prevent its involvement.
If successful the move could prevent China General Nuclear from any involvement in a consortium planning to build the £20billion Sizewell C nuclear plant on the Suffolk coast, as well as a second construction in Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex. The Sizewell C project has been proposed by a consortium of French firm EDF and CGN, with planned ownership being 80% and 20% respectively.
A Whitehall source confirmed the government is exploring ways of removing CGN from future nuclear power projects, a move which would undoubtedly fuel further tensions between the UK and China, and would also mark a toughening of Britain’s stance toward’s Beijing.
China’s involvement in nuclear power in the UK originally started in 2015 with an agreement endorsed by then prime minister David Cameron and Chinese president Xi Jinping, but since then relations have soured over concerns about Beijing’s clampdown in Hong Kong and the treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said:
“Nuclear power has an important role to play in the UK’s low-carbon energy future, as we work towards our world-leading target to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050. All nuclear projects in the UK are conducted under robust and independent regulation to meet the UK’s rigorous legal, regulatory and national security requirements to make sure our interests are fully protected.”
The controversial Sizewell C project suffered a significant setback earlier this year after major investors withdrew a significant part of the funding for the £20billion project.