Shadow Energy Secretary Alan Whitehead thinks the UK Government’s confirmation that it will withdraw from the Euratom organisation places a “potential time bomb” under EDF’s plans to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset.

He told Utility Week that he has not received assurances from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over any Euratom-related clauses in ministers’ contract with the French firm.

The National Audit Office had previously warned that leaving Euratom could be viewed as a big enough change to lead to the contract being revised.

If the project is not completed then contractors may also be entitled to compensation, the politician said.

‘Disaster for UK taxpayers’

Whitehead said: “The potential is there for EDF to walk away from the deal with very large sums of money and not building the project, which would be a disaster for UK taxpayers, making the sums involved in the recent nuclear decommissioning fiasco look tiny in comparison.

“This is a potential time bomb.”

In response to a written question about the project’s potential compensation arrangements, Energy Minister Richard Harrington said: “The consequences of the intended withdrawal from the Euratom Treaty will be closely monitored and the department is in close consultation with the industry about its impacts.”

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