If built - and that is highly uncertain - the pounds 3.5bn Sizewell C station would have twice the power output of the Sizewell B pressurised water reactor which will begin generating electricity for the national grid next summer.
The construction project would be Britain's largest and last 10 years, employing about 15,000 people around the country, according to the company. It applied to Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, for the permisson needed to construct the plant.
Normally the Government would hold a public inquiry before making a decision, but the fate of Sizewell C will more likely depend on a high- powered Whitehall review covering the entire industry, which is due to start soon.
Yesterday Tim Eggar, the energy minister, reacted frostily to the application for planning permission. The Government had no plans to fund the construction of the station, had not encouraged Nuclear Electric to apply, 'and it has been made clear to the company that government policy on the construction of new nuclear power stations is unchanged'.
State-owned Nuclear Electric realises the power station could only be built with private sector cash; the company's board is eager to be privatised. One option would be to claim that electricity from Sizewell C deserves a 'green' subsidy because it would not produce the greenhouse gas and acid rain emissions associated with coal and gas burning plant.Reuse content