Fifty-seven years to the day since Britain’s first nuclear power plant was officially opened by the Queen, the chancellor George Osborne has announced that the government is to give the green light to Chinese companies wanting a stake in British nuclear power.
He made the announcement at Taishan nuclear station in Southern China on the final day of his trade visit to the country.
Any initial Chinese stake in a nuclear power project is likely to be a minority stake. However, in future projects, including new power stations, Chinese companies could be majority stakeholders.
Osborne said, “Today is another demonstration of the next big step in the relationship between Britain and China – the world’s oldest civil nuclear power and the world’s fastest growing civil nuclear power.”
He added that the deal was an important part of the government’s plan for developing the next generation of nuclear power in Britain.
On this day in 1956, the Queen switched on the world’s first full-scale power plant at Calder Hall, Cumberland.
The Chinese deal has been met with opposition from some environmental campaign groups, including Friends of the Earth, which said the government should focus on developing a world class renewables industry instead.
Craig Bennet, director of policy and campaigns at the organisation, said, “The reality is that nuclear takes decades to build, but climate change and energy challenges are upon us now.
“The government must listen to investors who are calling for a 2030 electricity decarbonisation target in the energy bill and focus on the measures to deliver.”