Government ministers from the UK, France and China attended the event.Read the full story ›
The Chinese firm helping to build the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point is set to submit a design for another site.
State-owned CGN said it is now able to move forward and deliver nuclear capacity at other UK sites including Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex, after the government gave the £18 billion project the go-ahead.
For Bradwell, the firm plans to submit a design for UK regulatory approval, which could take four years.
The reactor design and technology will need to be approved for use in the UK before the station can be built.
Communities around Hinkley Point in Somerset have celebrated the approval of plans for a new power plant as they look forward to an influx of new jobs into the area.
It is thought that around 26,000 jobs could be created by the created by the construction of the Hinkley C generator - with many likely to go to businesses based in the local area.
- Video report by ITV News West of England Correspondent Rupert Everlyn
The long-awaited approval of a new power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset will deliver "mutual benefits" to both Britain and China, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.
A spokesman said China "welcomes the decision" to approve the project today which he said was in "the interests of all parties".
It comes after security concerns were raised over the involvement of the Chinese state-owned CGN energy company in the design and construction of the plant, which is being led by the French company EDF.
CGN is also set to design and build further nuclear plants at other UK sites, including Bradwell in Essex and Sizewell in Suffolk.
We hope that under the joint efforts of China, UK and France, Hinkley point and the subsequent nuclear projects in the package deal could be implemented soon, in order to reach mutual benefits and win-win results.
A former Conservative chancellor and ex-energy secretary has criticised the new power plant at Hinkley Point as poor value for Britain.
Lord Lawson of Blaby said he was not anti-nuclear but every independent energy expert had said this was a "thoroughly lousy deal".
He said that French energy company EDF, which has been contracted to build the plant, is "hopelessly behind schedule and in deep, deep trouble" over two similar power stations it is constructing in France and Finland.
The politician called for an assurance that if there are similar problems at Hinkley C the government would have "no hesitation in ending this contract whatever penalties there may be because it is a lousy contract and the sooner it is ended the better".
Why does the government want a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point and why has it proved so controversial?Read the full story ›
The green light on the Hinkley nuclear deal is like having the "winning lottery ticket" for the local area, ITV News correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports.
Workers at a Somerset factory, where they make electrical distribution switch gear, told ITV News that the deal made them feel "more secure" and "excited" at the prospect of working on the project.
Owner of Elecsis Switchgear Ltd, Chris Pratt, said that the project is an opportunity for expansion.
"We want to be able to make sure we can not only service Hinkley Point but service our long-term customers," he said.
EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz has said he is "delighted" at the government's decision to go ahead with the Hinkley project and said its review of the deal was "sensible and very logical".
De Rivaz said that he was pleased to agree with the government that they intend to maintain the major stake in the project and ensure that 64% of their suppliers are from the UK.
"It's very sensible, it is very logical, we are very comfortable with that and we are very pleased to say yes to the government asking us to make this commitment," he said.
But he added that selling their stake in the project is "not at all on the agenda."
He added that Hinkley is a "good deal" for consumers and that it would kick-start other nuclear deals at Sizewell and Bradwell that will be cheaper.
Business and energy minister Greg Clark said reforms to the "wider legal framework" over Hinkley would be in place for future deals involving critical infrastructure in the UK.
He told parliament that reforms include:
- A 'special share' for the government in all future nuclear new-build projects to ensure significant stakes cannot be sold without the government's knowledge or consent.
- The Office for Nuclear Regeneration (ONR), independent of government and investors, will require notice from developers and operators about any change of ownership or part ownership which will allow the governmnet to advise or take action to protect issues of national security.
- A significant reform in the government's approach to the ownership and control of critical infrastructure to ensure that the full implications of foreign ownership are scrutinised for the purposes of national security. This will include a review of the public interest test in the Enterprise Act 2002 and a national security requirement to ensure government approval.
However, Labour suggested the claims relating to the new powers were "window dressing" and that the government already has the ability to intervene in deals relating to the sale of critical infrastructure.
Consumers will not "pay a penny" for Hinkley's construction until it generates electricity, the energy minister told parliament.
Greg Clark said the proposed 'strike price' of £92.50 MW/h, which would reduce to £89.50 MW/h if Sizewell C is built, contains important elements of insurance against cost overrun and future high gas prices.
He added the price "compares broadly" to costs of other clean energy.
He said the Hinkley deal "rebooted" the nuclear industry and that costs would reduce as new nuclear stations open, five of which are proposed.
It must be stressed that the contracts negotiated places all the construction risk on investors alone.
Consumers will not pay a penny unless and until the plant generates electricity.