Austria delays complaint against UK nuclear power plant

GavelAustria, which was due to file a legal complaint on Monday against EU-granted state subsidies for a new nuclear power plant in Britain, has delayed the move by several days, a source said.

Last week, the government announced it would formally challenge the subsidies for the Hinkley Point C project in the European Court of Justice on June 29.

Austria argues the proposal is in breach of European law and risks distorting the energy market.

“The complaint initially announced for this Monday will probably not be filed before Wednesday,” a source familiar with the case told AFP.

Under the disputed deal, Britain would help fund the construction of two new reactors in southwest England.

As part of the agreement, the British government would guarantee an elevated 35-year fixed electricity rate to French energy group EDF, which would be in charge of the building the plant.

But Austria’s Deputy Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner said that “subsidising a technology which has been around for several decades, and is unprofitable once you take into account all the costs, goes against the basic logic of European law regarding state aid.”

Initially projected to cost £16 billion ($25 billion, 22.6 billion euros), EU officials now estimate the project will require £24.5 billion.

Despite opposition from activists and several member states, the European Commission approved the project in October after Britain modified funding plans for the deal.

“We are confident that the European Commission’s state aid decision on Hinkley Point C is legally robust and have no reason to believe that Austria will submit a challenge of any merit,” a spokeswoman for Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change said last week.

Environmentalists see Hinkley Point as an unnecessary support of nuclear energy just when the use of renewables, such as wind and solar power, is beginning to take hold.

But the EU Commission insists that the choice of energy source, no matter how controversial, is strictly up to member states. EU member Austria has no nuclear power stations.

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1 Comment
  • GRLCowan

    The fossil fuel interests — including governments — like renewable energy.