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Friday, 21 November 2014

Centrica pull out won't undermine nuclear policy, says Government

The Government is insisting its nuclear policy is still on track despite today’s announcement that Centrica is withdrawing from the UK's nuclear re-building.

Centrica, which owns British Gas, had the option of taking a 20 per cent stake in four new reactors in Somerset and Suffolk in a partnership with EDF, the French state-owned utility.

But today it said it was pulling out because "the project costs in new nuclear have increased and the construction timetable has extended".

The nuclear plants being proposed by EDF would be the first such facilities to be built in the UK since 1995. Without Centrica's investment, the companies behind the projects will need altervative backers, widely tipped to be Chinese state-owned nuclear company CGNPC.

Centrica chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, said the lengthening time frame of building new power stations had led to the decision and admitted that the Fukushima disaster had had a "knock-on impact" on the schedule to build plants in the UK.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: "We are determined to make the UK a leading global destination for investment in new nuclear, which will play a key role in our future energy mix.

"We welcome EDF Energy's continued commitment and determination to take forward the Hinkley Point C project. The decision by Centrica reflects the company's investment priorities and is not a reflection on UK Government policy.

"The recent purchase of Horizon Nuclear Power by Hitachi is clear evidence of the attractiveness of the new nuclear market in the UK."

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