Britain’s new £18 billion nuclear power plant is being funded by illegal French state aid, according to a lawsuit filed by Greenpeace. The environmental group is urging the European Commission to order EDF, the French state-owned energy giant that is building the plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, to repay the 6.8 billion euros it received from the French government. The lawsuit is also a shot across the bows of Theresa May, who approved plans for Hinkley Point C last autumn, and President Macron of France, who organised the bailout of EDF when he was economy minister. At the time, EDF was struggling with debts of more than 37 billion and a requirement to find more than 50 billion to renovate its French reactors. Critics, including the group’s own financial director, said that it could not afford its two-thirds share of the investment in Hinkley Point. Greenpeace claims that the deal amounts to unfair state aid. “Instead of acting like a smart investor, the state is providing unconditional support to EDF and its nuclear projects that threaten the health of the company, notably Hinkley Point. There is no economic logic,” Laura Monnier, of Greenpeace France, said. “Greenpeace’s lawsuit aims to show that EDF’s capital increase is incompatible with European competition law.” The environmental organisation said that EDF had been wrong to invest in Hinkley Point “when it does not have the funds to invest in the maintenance and safety of its French nuclear fleet”. Greenpeace’s lawsuit is unlikely to halt the Hinkley Point project, but it adds to the controversy over the scheme on both sides of the Channel.Shares in EDF slumped yesterday after the appointment of Nicolas Hulot, 62, France’s best known environmental campaigner, as minister of ecology and solidarity in Mr Macron’s government. Investors fear that Mr Hulot will press EDF to reduce its dependence on nuclear power and to pump funds into the development of renewable energy.
Times 18th May 2017 read more »
Reuters 17th May 2017 read more »