British taxpayers could be landed with a bill of up to £22 billion if a future government shut down EDF’s Hinkley Point nuclear power station before 2060, according to official documents.
The “poison pill” clause is contained in unpublicised minutes submitted by officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to parliament last October.
They say: “In certain, highly unlikely scenarios where there is a political shutdown of [Hinkley] by a UK, EU or international competent authority, payments could be up to around £22 billion excluding non-decommissioning operational costs that may be incurred after any shutdown.”
David Lowry, a nuclear research consultant, said the clause offered evidence that the contract to build the £18 billion power station in Somerset was disastrous. “It’s clearly meant to make sure that the government can’t back out,” he said. “It shows all of the public interest is being transferred to a French electricity company with zero benefit to the UK taxpayer.”