Plans to build a new nuclear power station have received a boost after the Government announced £100 million of funding to support its continued development.
Unions welcomed the development as a step forward, but Unite urged the Government to “take the handbrake off” and speed up the process.
Greenpeace said spending taxpayers’ money was an admission that nuclear was not commercially viable.
Negotiations between the Government and Sizewell C project developer EDF started last year.
If built, Sizewell C would power the equivalent of about six million homes, as well as support up to 10,000 jobs in Suffolk and across the UK.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “In light of high global gas prices, we need to ensure Britain’s future energy supply is bolstered by reliable, affordable, low-carbon power that is generated in this country.
“New nuclear is not only an important part of our plans to ensure greater energy independence, but to create high-quality jobs and drive economic growth.
“The funding announced today will further support the development of Sizewell C during this important phase of negotiations as we seek to maximise investor confidence in this nationally significant project.”
Simone Rossi, chief executive of EDF Energy, said: “We’re very pleased that the Government is showing its confidence in Sizewell C which, if approved, will lower energy costs for consumers and help to insulate the UK from global gas prices.
“Together with our own investment, these funds will allow us to continue to move the project towards a financial investment decision.
“Sizewell C will benefit from being a near replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset, which is more than five years into construction and making great progress in the challenging context of the Covid pandemic.
“Sizewell C will provide a huge economic boost to east Suffolk where it already enjoys the support of most local people. It will also bring new opportunities for thousands of nuclear supply chain companies up and down the country.”
The Government made up to £1.7 billion of new direct funding available at the Spending Review for developing a large-scale nuclear project to the point of a final investment decision this Parliament.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a step forward but the Government needs to take the handbrake off when it comes to the development of new nuclear power stations.
“The Government needs to sit down with EDF now, not later in the year, and agree a funding model that allows Sizewell to start without any further delay. If such a funding model requires government support, then it should be given.”
Charlotte Childs, GMB national officer, said: “This is much needed and welcome news and a massive huge stride towards a low-carbon UK.
“We face an unprecedented energy crisis and we need nuclear projects like Sizewell C to protect consumers, workers and our planet.”
Greenpeace UK’s policy director Dr Doug Parr said: “This cash injection is a tacit admission by the Government that nuclear is not commercially viable, but they are so fixated on getting 20th-century nuclear technology delivered they’ll just keep throwing taxpayers’ money at it.
“Including all the other subsidy sources, Sizewell C will now have subsidised development, subsidised construction, subsidised power production and subsidised waste management, for a project by a subsidised company.”
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “This is another big step forward for Sizewell C and a big vote of confidence in nuclear. It sends a clear signal from government to investors that it sees projects like Sizewell C as essential to our clean energy transition.
“Investment in new nuclear capacity is essential to us hitting net zero to ensure a solid foundation of reliable low-carbon power which will strengthen our energy security. This is not only an investment in the UK’s green energy future but also in jobs and skills right across the country.”
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