CGN, China’s leading nuclear energy company, has admitted that political sensitivities could prompt it to give up the chance to operate a new atomic power plant in the UK. Theresa May introduced new foreign investment legislation a couple of months ago and the government’s energy committee also recommended a steer away from nuclear Government investment. With the current economic climate nuclear investment is just not attractive, and it is even less attractive if the nuclear kit is coming from a growing military power contesting areas outside its country, engaged in cyber-crime and trade wars with the USA. Many commentators suggest that EDF, the other partner in the Bradwell B project, doesn’t have the money to lead at Bradwell. The UK government has also confirmed it has been drawing up plans for tougher screening of foreign investments. The Conservative party has long promised to ensure that foreign ownership of companies controlling “important infrastructure” will not undermine national security. Nick Timothy, former co-chief of staff to the prime minister, has warned against allowing China to invest in the UK’s nuclear programme, giving Beijing the capacity to “shut down Britain’s energy production at will”. So, in some ways there is no surprise that China General Nuclear (CGN) in a recent interview with the Financial Times confirmed that they may “bow to political sensitivities” to give up control of Bradwell, the proposed Essex-based power station in which CGN has agreed to hold a 66.5 percent stake, with France’s EDF holding the remainder Zheng Dongshan, CEO of CGN’s UK subsidiary told the FT “We understand the political and local sensitivities,” and further stated “There is no reason to restrict us as a Chinese investor but we know we must take time to show the public, the government, they can trust us.” As we have seen first hand at Bradwell with the decommissioning and the beginning stages of new build there has never been a reason to “trust” the regulators and developers involved in the UK nuclear industry. The hope is that this CGN statement is a subtle withdrawal of Chinese interest in nuclear development at Bradwell.
Mersea Courier 4th Oct 2018 read more »