Austria files legal complaint against EU subsidies to UK’s Hinkley C nuclear project

6 July 2015 (Last Updated July 6th, 2015 18:30)

Austria has filed a lawsuit in the European Court of Justice against the European Union's state subsidy grants for EDF Energy's proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in the UK.

hinkley point coast

Austria has filed a lawsuit in the European Court of Justice against the European Union’s state subsidy grants for EDF Energy’s proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in the UK.

Austrian Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann said: "Subsidies are there to support modern technologies that lie in the general interest of all EU member states. This is not the case with nuclear power."

The country believes that the ‘highly subsidised’ nuclear project is in breach of European law and can affect the energy market by distorting competition.

The planned construction for two nuclear reactors in the south western parts of the UK is likely to be funded by the British Government.

"Australia believes that the ‘highly subsidised’ nuclear project is in breach of European law."

European Union has approved a £17.6bn subsidy scheme for the project in October 2014. The decision had received vehement opposition from non-nuclear nations like Austria, a German energy co-operative led by Greenpeace along with other European countries and some EU policymakers.

Hinkley Point C is considered to be significant for the UK since the country intends to reduce carbon emissions and replace its old nuclear and coal powered facilities.

The project is estimated to cost around £24.5bn and is predicted to meet 7% of UK’s power demands by 2023.

The nuclear facility is likely to be developed in ten years by French utility EDF Energy.

World Nuclear Association director general Agneta Rising said: "It is one thing to have an opinion, it is quite another to try and force your opinion on someone else.

"The UK public, indeed people in all countries, have the right to choose nuclear to meet their energy needs and to help address climate concerns if they so wish.

"It is a pity that the Austrian Government has decided not to respect that right.

"The countries that are leading on decarbonisation are using nuclear energy. Not all countries are in Austria’s position; lucky enough to be able to count on hydro power built decades ago to provide roughly 65% of their electricity today."


Image: The Hinkley Point nuclear power station. Photo: courtesy of Richard Baker.