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Hinkley Point decision delayed until September

A decision on whether to fund Britain’s first nuclear power plant in decades has been delayed again.

EDF will now make a final investment decision on the Hinkley Point nuclear reactor in September, France’s economy minister Emmanuel Macron told French newspaper Journal du Dimanche.

Mr Macron said just last month a decision on the £18bn nuclear plant would be made in early May.

EDF, which is 85% French state owned, on Friday detailed plans to raise €4bn.

Up to €3bn in the expected rights issue, which will allow shareholders to buy new shares in the firm, will be provided by the French government.

The company said the “significant recapitalisation” would make it possible for it to go ahead with “its strategic investment programme including Hinkley Point C”.

It also said it planned to consult with unions before announcing its decision – a 60-day process. Unions have criticised the cost of the project.

A decision on the nuclear plant had previously been expected at the end of March.

The Hinkley Point nuclear power plant could ultimately produce 7% of British electricity and create 25,000 jobs, according to EDF. It had been due to start producing electricity in 2025, but the delays to the investment decision mean many expect this date to slip.

In October last year, EDF agreed a deal under which China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) would pay a third of the cost of the project in exchange for a 33.5% stake.

But EDF has been struggling to find the cash for its remaining 66.5% stake.

Last month, the company’s chief executive, Jean-Bernard Levy, said that the financial context was “challenging” and that he was negotiating with the French government to secure more funding.

The UK government has been criticised for guaranteeing a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity – more than twice the current cost – for the electricity Hinkley produces for 35 years.

It has said it is “committed” to Hinkley.