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Government could approve Hinkley Point C but delay Bradwell nuclear plant

The government is considering scaling back its agreement with China over nuclear development in the UK.

One proposal could see the development of the £18bn Hinkley Point C plant given the go-ahead, while a linked Chinese nuclear power project in Bradwell, Essex, could be reconsidered.

According to The Times, the decision to reconsider Bradwell would allow the UK government to assess whether the Chinese state-backed scheme posed any security risks to Britain.

The Bradwell plant was a crucial component to a multi-billion-pound nuclear agreement between the UK and China and its removal could threaten the Hinkley deal.

Last October, the Chinese government agreed to take a 33.5 per cent stake in Hinkley with the project’s developer, EDF.

Under the deal, China would first partly finance Hinkley and the proposed Sizewell plant in Suffolk and then become the sole developer of a nuclear reactor at Bradwell.

The Essex site would be fully funded and constructed by the Chinese and use China’s AP1000 rector technology.

EDF made a final investment decision on Hinkley in July, with its board voting 10 to seven in favour of building the plant.

But this was thrown into fresh doubt after the UK government said it would review the Hinkley deal mere hours after EDF reached its FID.

The prime minister’s chief of staff Nick Timothy has also previously condemned Chinese involvement in the UK nuclear sector.

Writing on ConservativeHome last October, Mr Timothy said: “Security experts – reportedly inside as well as outside government – are worried that the Chinese could use their role to build weaknesses into computer systems, which will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will.”

On Saturday, EDF’s UK chief executive Vincent de Rivaz called on the UK government to set aside any concerns it had about Chinese involvement in its nuclear sector.

Writing for The Telegraph he said “we know and trust our Chinese partners” and added that Chinese involvement would bring “enormous benefits for the UK”.

A decision on Hinkley is now expected next month.

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