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China May Build & Run Nuclear Power Plants In Britain

Laura Pitel, The Times

China could design and run the next generation of British nuclear power stations after a series of deals ushered in a new era of co-operation over energy and infrastructure.

With the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, on an official visit to Britain, ministers agreed to co-operate on several areas in nuclear power as part of a wider package of deals worth more than £14 billion. While increased nuclear co-operation could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to British companies over the coming years, it will also raise concerns about security.

A memorandum of understanding between the two countries stated that any progress would be contingent on the “stringent requirements” of the UK’s independent nuclear regulators. However, MPs and experts have voiced fears about the safety and security implications of allowing China to become intimately involved in the sensitive energy sector.

Announcing the partnership, David Cameron said it proved that Britain was the “most open economy in the EU, the most welcoming to Chinese investment, including in our nuclear industry and our infrastructure, and I’m determined to keep it that way.”

He said that the rise of China was “one of the defining events of our century”, adding that the UK wanted to strengthen ties on all levels.

The nuclear agreement builds on an announcement last October when ministers agreed to work together on the development of civil nuclear power and announced that Chinese companies would take a stake in a new nuclear station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The new deals go further, setting out the desire for future co-operation on fuel cycle development, decommissioning of nuclear facilities and management of radioactive waste, along with research and training. Other deals signed during the visit include an agreement on rail that paves the way for Chinese companies to invest in and build new lines, stations and equipment, including on high-speed lines.

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