The new deal follows an eight-week review and involves preventing future Chinese ownership of the project.
After years of planning and prevarication, Hinkley Point owner EDF made a final board decision on 28th July 2016 that it would go ahead with the project, having sold a 33.3% share in the project to China General Nuclear Corporation last year.
However, new prime minister Theresa May put her final approval on hold, which was a surprise to many since previous government’s had been so supportive of the project.
Concern evidently focused on Chinese involvement in the deal, and specifically a guarantee that the Chinese government was given the right to build its own nuclear power station at Bradwell in Essex – using its own designs – in exchange for investing in Hinkley and Sizewell.
Mrs May has now given the go-ahead for the two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point but is looking again foreign investment in UK infrastructure. EDF will not be able to sell its controlling stake in the plant without government approval.
A government statement said: “Following a comprehensive review of the Hinkley Point C project, and a revised agreement with EDF, the Government has decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation. However, ministers will impose a new legal framework for future foreign investment in Britain’s critical infrastructure, which will include nuclear energy and apply after Hinkley.
"The agreement in principle with EDF means that the Government will be able to prevent the sale of EDF’s controlling stake prior to the completion of construction, without the prior notification and agreement of ministers. This agreement will be confirmed in an exchange of letters between the government and EDF. Existing legal powers, and the new legal framework, will mean that the Government is able to intervene in the sale of EDF’s stake once Hinkley is operational."
It added: “Existing legal powers, and the new legal framework, will mean that the government is able to intervene in the sale of EDF’s stake once Hinkley is operational.”
EDF said that intends to sign agreements with the UK government, its Chinese partner CGN and supply chain partners "at the earliest opportunity".
EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said: “Today’s announcement is good news for British consumers and gives a huge boost to British industry. We remain fully aligned with the British government. The solid performance of the EDF Energy’s 15 nuclear reactors underpins our credibility as a nuclear operator and developer in the UK. We will take the risk and responsibility to deliver Hinkley Point C and provide the UK with the reliable low carbon electricity it needs. The experience and expertise gained from restarting new nuclear build in the UK will help following projects be even more competitive”