Britain gave the go-ahead for a $24 billion nuclear power plant on Thursday, ending weeks of uncertainty that had strained ties with China, which will help pay for it, and France, which will build it.
- Prime Minister Theresa May's government signaled it would take a more cautious approach in future over foreign investment in big infrastructure projects than her predecessor David Cameron.
- But ultimately, after stunning Paris and Beijing by putting the deal on hold in July after May took office, it agreed to go ahead with the Hinkley Point C project in southwest England. Britain's first new nuclear power plant in decades will be built by French state-controlled utility firm EDF, backed by $8 billion of Chinese cash.
- The deal is part of a recovery of the global nuclear power industry following a slump caused by the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.
- The government drew fire for approving it without renegotiating the price British consumers will pay for electricity. The opposition Labour Party supports the project in principle but says its guarantee to pay a minimum of roughly double the current market price for electricity for 35 years is a rip-off.
- May's government said a new investment policy would give it greater control over future deals when foreign states are involved in "critical infrastructure", a departure from the more open approach pursued by Cameron.
CAMERON PASSED THE DEAL ON TO NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER RESIGNATION
(LONDON) - Theresa May inherited the deal from Cameron, who quit as prime minister after losing Britain's referendum to stay in the EU. In one of her first acts, she put the project on hold, hours before a contract was due to be signed, saying she needed time to assess it.
"The government has decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power stations for a generation,"
Business minister Greg Clark told parliament on Thursday, setting out changes to the deal and British policy on foreign infrastructure investment.
"These changes mean that while the UK will remain one of the most open economies in the world, the public can be confident that foreign direct investment works always in the public interest," he said.
Supporters of the project said Britain needed to protect its relations with major economies after voting to leave the European Union, and show it was open for business.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it welcomed the decision while Britain's finance minister Philip Hammond said it continued the strategic partnership between the two countries.
Contributed by William James and Kate Holton - Reuters