Hinkley Point C construction 'should be delayed until 2019'

Artist's impression of Hinkley Point C plant Image copyright PA
Image caption The nuclear plant will be built next to two existing facilities at Hinkley Point in Somerset

Construction of Britain's first nuclear power plant in 20 years should be delayed, a French union says.

Investment in Hinkley Point C should be held until 2019 so problems with a similar reactor design in France are solved, the CFE-CGC Energy Union said.

It comes after French firm EDF Energy agreed a deal in principle last year, to invest in the Somerset site.

Unions occupy six of the 18 seats on the board of EDF, which is yet to vote on a final investment decision.

The £18bn project has been plagued by delays, but publicly the firm has insisted a decision to move forward is imminent.

Speaking at the EDF annual presentation of accounts last month, chairman Jean-Bernard Levy said the final investment decision was "just ahead of us", but he did not give an exact date.

Analysis by BBC Points West's Clinton Rogers

The Hinkley C story has been a rollercoaster - with little sign of a less bumpy ride around the corner.

The company's problem is that it has made too many pronouncements of a final investment decision being "soon." Many deadlines have come and gone.

And each time nerves jangle a little more among those who say the nuclear project is vital to the economic prosperity of the West.

Locally, many millions of pounds have been spent on new roads, new training centres, new offices. Companies in and around Somerset have been gearing up for the development, which has promised 25,000 new jobs in the construction phase alone.

There are many who say that too much has been invested for Hinkley not to happen now. But in France, it seems there are influential voices now trying to derail the new nuclear train.

Francis Raillott, of CFE-CGC, which has two seats on the EDF board, said investment should not be made until problems surrounding a project in Flamanville, France - which is years behind schedule and millions of Euros over budget - have been solved.

"Right now, Hinkley is too risky for the company," he said.

"We think it is better to wait and see. Wait for three years so we can see that everything works... or not."

An EDF spokesman said: "Final steps are well in hand to enable the full construction phase [at Hinkley] to be launched very soon."

Hinkley is due to start generating power in 2025, and is expected to provide 7% of the UK's electricity once it is running.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites