Chancellor George Osborne has defended his backing for Chinese investment in Britain's nuclear power industry, saying that it will have economic benefits for Britain.
He told ITV News' Political Editor Tom Bradby that China is "no longer a sweat shop in Asia" and that the UK should be expanding trade links.
The chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, Lord Hutton, has welcomed the agreement between Britain and China to cooperate on nuclear power:
– Lord Hutton, chairman, Nuclear Industry Association
This is further evidence that the UK nuclear market remains an attractive place for overseas investment.
Closer cooperation with [the] world’s fastest growing nuclear nation presents substantial opportunities for UK companies with expertise, skills and long experience in nuclear technology.
Hinkley Point C is a major national infrastructure project that will create tens of thousands of jobs in UK, give a substantial boost to UK construction and manufacturing industries, make major contribution to UK energy security and assist in meeting national carbon reduction targets.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has issued this statement following the Chancellor's announcement that he is "paving the way" for Chinese investment in British nuclear power plants, including potentially the one at Hinkley Point:
– DECC statement
Negotiations remain on-going between Government and EDF Group on the potential terms of an investment contract for Hinkley Point C – with an agreement yet to be finalised.
Friends of the Earth director of policy and campaigns Craig Bennett said the nuclear power agreement with Chinese investors was "a bad deal for taxpayers".
Mr Bennett said:
The Government has chosen to give enormous long-term handouts to Chinese and French companies when they could be developing a world-class renewable industry in the UK.
The reality is that nuclear power takes decades to build, but climate change and energy challenges are upon us now - this focus on nuclear distracts from more urgent priorities such as delivering energy efficiency to households who are suffering rocketing energy bills due to the rising price of gas.
Chancellor George Osborne said Chinese investment in British nuclear power delivers "a good deal".
Speaking during a visit to a nuclear power station in Taishan, China, Mr Osborne said: "We're delivering a good deal for the British taxpayer and we're going to make sure of course that the very stringent British rules on safety are applied.
"The Chinese investment in British nuclear power means British taxpayers' money can be used instead for building schools and hospitals and in the long-term British families get lower and more stable energy bills."
Energy Secretary Ed Davey called the go ahead for China's involvement in Britain's nuclear power stations "an exciting development".
Mr Davey said it would lead to "strengthening our relationship with China in a way that will benefit both countries."
"Investment from Chinese companies in the UK electricity market is welcome, providing they can meet our stringent regulatory and safety requirements," he added.
Chancellor George Osborne said the Government's decision to encourage Chinese firms to help develop nuclear power stations in the UK is "good for the taxpayer".
Mr Osborne wrote on Twitter:
We're paving way for major Chinese involvement in building new nuclear power stations in UK. Good for taxpayer- will help with energy prices
Chancellor George Osborne has announced that the government is to give the go ahead to Chinese firms taking a stake in the development of the next generation of British nuclear power.
He made the announcement at Taishan nuclear power station in Southern China on the final day of his visit to China.
The Chancellor 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.
"It is an important potential part of the government's plan for developing the next generation of nuclear power in Britain. It means the potential of more investment and jobs in Britain, and lower long-term energy costs for consumers."