PM challenged over future of Bradwell B amid security concerns

  Posted: 25.11.21 at 15:14 by Charlotte Lillywhite

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The prime minister said he does not want to “pitchfork away” all investment from China, as he was pressed on the potential removal of China’s state-owned energy company from the nuclear power plant proposed for Bradwell B.

Asked about Chinese involvement in the proposed nuclear power station at Bradwell-on-Sea during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (Wednesday, 24 November), Boris Johnson said he does not want to “minimise the importance of this country having a trading relationship with China”.

The China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), China’s state-owned and state-operated nuclear company, and French energy giant EDF are partners in the Bradwell B Power Generation Company - the company formed to bring about Bradwell B.

In July, a Whitehall source confirmed a report by the Financial Times that the government is seeking to remove CGN from future projects in the UK - this would exclude the group from its Bradwell B project.

Labour MP Matthew Pennycook reminded Mr Johnson yesterday that “the Government’s Integrated Review concluded that the Chinese state poses a systemic challenge to our national security” and that he had “made it clear that, when it comes to China, we must remain vigilant about our critical national infrastructure”.

He continued: “Can he therefore confirm today, unequivocally, that plans for China General Nuclear to own and operate its own plant in Essex have been abandoned and explain to the House precisely how and when this Government intends to remove CGN’s interest from the Sizewell C nuclear project?”

CGN is a minority development partner with EDF in Sizewell C - the nuclear power station proposed for the Suffolk coast.

Mr Johnson said the Government does not “want to see undue influence by potentially adversarial countries in our critical national infrastructure, so that’s why we’ve taken the decisions that we have”.

He said more information on Bradwell would be “forthcoming”.

He added: “What I don’t want to do is pitchfork away wantonly all Chinese investment in this country, or minimise the importance of this country having a trading relationship with China.”

Mr Pennycook, the shadow climate change minister, said later on Twitter: “We need certainty on the future of China’s involvement in UK nuclear power and clarity about how and when the Government intends to remove China's state-controlled nuclear energy company from involvement in any future UK project.”

Earlier this month, Bradwell B won an appeal over Maldon District Council to conduct land investigations on the proposed site.

The ground investigations are set to take place over a maximum of two years, and the load testing works over three years.

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