The government will take a golden share in all future nuclear new build projects to stop them from falling into undesirable foreign ownership.
After a review of the Hinkley Point C deal, in which EDF sold a significant stake to China General Nuclear Corporation, the government is now planning to reform its approach to the ownership and control of all critical infrastructure “to ensure that the full implications of foreign ownership are scrutinised for the purposes of national security.”
Included in this will be a review of the public interest regime in the Enterprise Act 2002 along with the introduction of a cross cutting national security requirement for continued government approval of the control and ownership of critical infrastructure.
In terms of nuclear power stations, the Office for Nuclear Regulation will be directed to require notice from developers of operators of nuclear sites of any change of ownership or part-ownership.
This will mean that the government can advise or direct the ONR to take action to protect national security as a result of any changing ownership.
Business and energy secretary Greg Clark said: “Having thoroughly reviewed the proposal for Hinkley Point C, we will introduce a series of measures to enhance security and will ensure Hinkley cannot change hands without the Government’s agreement. Consequently, we have decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation.
“Britain needs to upgrade its supplies of energy, and we have always been clear that nuclear is an important part of ensuring our future low-carbon energy security.”
For years, it has been doubtful when EDF would actually start building Hinkley in earnest, let alone complete it.
But last Thursday, seven weeks after EDF’s planned go-ahead celebrations were kyboshed by a surprise government review, ministers finally gave it the green light.