Hinkley decision expected within a week

French energy giant EDF has announced that it will make a final decision on the delayed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant this week. A decision on whether EDF would commit its share of funding towards the £18bn project had previously been put off until September this year, but EDF has now said in a company statement that it will put the decision on the agenda of an executive board meeting on 28 July.

The statement says: "The HPC Project is a major element of the Group's CAP 2030 strategy. The two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point would strengthen EDF's presence in Britain, a country where its subsidiary EDF Energy already operates 15 nuclear reactors and is the largest electricity supplier by volume.

"HPC would also enable the Group to mobilise all its significant nuclear engineering skills following the final investment decision. The first concrete of reactor 1 of HPC, scheduled for mid-2019, would coincide with perfect continuity with the start-up of the EPR at Flamanville, scheduled for the end of 2018."

The EDF board has previously been reported as split over whether the Hinkley project represents a good investment at a time when the company's share price has fallen and problems have beset EDF's two other similar EPR reactor plants. Union representatives on the EDF board have protested against the project and the company's former finance director Thomas Piquemal resigned earlier this year as other senior board members wanted to push on with the scheme which he thought would expose the company to too much financial risk.

A positive announcement in the coming week would come as a huge boost for the UK government and infrastructure sector. The new Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, said last week that he is confident the Hinkley project will happen, but unsure when it will start. Contractors are poised to start the next phase of enabling work as soon as they get the green light. According to EDF, a decision can now be made following the conclusion of a consultation with members of the French Central Works Council over the proposed partnership with China's energy investor CGN Group.