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Companies consider legal challenge over EU go-ahead for Hinkley Point C

Independent energy supplier Ecotricity is among companies and organisations considering a legal challenge against the European commission decision to give approval to Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, The Guardian has reported.

Austria has already promised to fight the decision in the courts but Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, said he might stand as an “interested party” in the European court of justice to block the planned subsidy scheme for the £24bn project in Somerset.

Jeremy Leggett, who founded Solarcentury, also voiced his dismay to the Guardian. He said there are huge global industries now that are not likely to “soak up nuclear nonsense without a fight any more.”

Ecotricity builds windfarms and Solacentury installs solar panels. Both are worried that the government has capped the amount of money being made available for low-carbon generators. They fear that nuclear will suck up most of the available money.

The European commission announced last Wednesday that it was convinced by arguments from the UK government that the “contracts for difference” aid scheme was justified to encourage EDF of France to construct the new atomic plant.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has agreed that EDF will be able to obtain £92 per megawatt hour – double the current cost of energy – over a 35-year period. The money will be recovered via energy customers’ bills but the length of the contract is much more generous than anything agreed for wind or solar power.

Ed Davey, the energy and climate change secretary, described the Brussels decision as an important step on the road to Britain’s first new nuclear power station and insisted it was a good deal for consumers.

DECC argues that rising gas and carbon prices will make nuclear power a future good bet for consumers at a time when old coal and atomic stations are coming off line owing to old age or other reasons.

EDF says it can build Hinkley Point for £16bn. But the European commission says the cost by the time it is meant to become operational in 2023 is more likely to be £24bn.

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