Continental Breakfast: your daily update on what’s happening in Europe.
The U.K. government has finally given the go-ahead for work to start on a new 18 billion pounds ($24 billion) nuclear power station—the first in the country for more than two decades.
The power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, a county in south west England, was first proposed in 2006, but has been plagued by delays. U.K. prime minister Theresa May put the project under review in July over concerns about costs and the Chinese government becoming a significant investor in the British nuclear sector, with the project part-financed by French energy company EDF and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), which is state-owned.
But May announced this morning that work on the 3,200 megawatt plant could proceed and said that the country had introduced “significant new safeguards” for foreign investment in future projects. China’s investment in Hinkley was dependent on it being allowed to lead the development of its own nuclear power plant in Britain. EDF’s website says that its agreement with CGN also covers the development of two additional U.K. nuclear plants.
A number of U.K. law firms have been involved in the long-running Hinkley saga. Herbert Smith Freehills has been acting for longstanding client EDF on the project since 2006 and the company also brought in Clifford Chance to advise on its successful application for European Union subsidies. London-based Ashurst acted for CGNPG , while Pinsent Masons—a national midmarket firm known for its strength in energy and infrastructure work—advised local authorities on planning issues.