The government will push ahead with the new nuclear power plant at Sizewell C in Suffolk, chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said.
He said contracts for the initial £700m investment in the plant would be signed within weeks, ultimately creating 10,000 jobs and generating enough power for six million homes.
Doubts had been raised two weeks ago after reports emerged that the project - the final cost of which is estimated at between £20bn and £30bn - could face the axe in the chancellor's search for savings, forcing Downing Street into a denial.
“There is only one way to stop ourselves being at the mercy of international gas prices: energy independence combined with energy efficiency,” he said.
Mr Hunt said “Britain is a global leader in renewable energy” but insisted “we need to go further, with a major acceleration of home-grown technologies like offshore wind, carbon capture and storage, and, above all, nuclear”.
He went on: “This will deliver new jobs, industries, and export opportunities and secure the clean, affordable energy we need to power our future economy and reach net zero by 2050. So I can today announce that the government will proceed with the new nuclear plant at Sizewell C.
“Subject to final government approvals, the contracts for the initial investment will be signed with relevant parties, including EDF, in the coming weeks, it will create 10,000 highly skilled jobs and provide reliable, low-carbon, power to the equivalent of 6 million homes for over 50 years.
“Our £700m investment is the first state backing for a nuclear project in over 30 years and represents the biggest step in our journey to energy independence.”
The cash was announced by Boris Johnson, who urged the UK to "go large" on nuclear in his final major policy speech as prime minister.
Mr Hunt's announcement was immediately criticised by campaigners against the nuclear plant proposals.
A spokesman for the group Stop Sizewell C said: "If the chancellor is looking for cheap, reliable, energy independence, he is backing the wrong project, as Sizewell C’s ultimate cost and technical reliability are very uncertain and building it is reliant on French state-owned EDF.
"Greenlighting Sizewell C also loads more tax onto struggling households, who would be forced to pay a nuclear levy on bills for a decade before they could light a single lightbulb.
"Despite the chancellor's statement, Sizewell C still needs financing, and with at least a year before it's decided whether it will finally go ahead, we'll keep fighting this huge black hole for taxpayers’ money, when there are cheaper, quicker ways to get to net zero.”
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