EDF: Hinkley is vital and will go ahead despite delay

What a mess. Even if you take the government's stated position on Hinkley C at face value (crudely put: we just need a little more time) the failure to communicate this to either EDF or the China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) in advance of yesterday's final investment decision was, at best, undiplomatic. Noses are clearly out of joint.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, was in China last week reassuring everyone that Hinkley C would go ahead.

The Chairman of CGN, He Yu, flew into London yesterday morning, expecting to seal the deal, only to be told that the prime minister, Theresa May, wanted to delay signing the legal contracts.

Executives at EDF and CGN are undoubtedly cheesed-off but tonight Vincent de Rivaz, the CEO of EDF's British subsidiary, has written to staff to reassure them Hinkley C will be built.

EDF says the nuclear power station is 'vital'. Credit: ITV News

The letter says the nuclear power station is "vital" if Britain is going to keep the lights on and lower its carbon emissions.

De Rivaz points out that Britain's eight remaining nuclear power stations look increasingly arthritic.

Since 2010 25% of their generating capacity has closed, by 2030 a further 40% will have done. It's a reminder that if the Hinkley C project is abandoned there's no obvious Plan B.

Vincent de Rivaz said EDF fully respects the 'Prime Minister's method'.

On any anxieties regarding China's involvement in the project, de Rivaz points out EDF has worked with CGN for more than 30 years.

"We trust them. They trust us," he says.

On the government's sudden hesitancy, Vincent de Rivaz says he understands the new government is 16 days-old and sympathises with Theresa May's desire to scrutinise the terms and conditions her predecessor agreed. "We fully respect the Prime Minister's method" he writes.

That said, he makes it clear that he expects a green light soon. "When the government is ready to go-ahead, we are ready to."

No ifs, no buts, he believes Hinkley C will happen. We'll see.