Austria takes action against UK nuclear plant project

Austrian government tries to block construction of new nuclear power plant in UK

Photo by: Richard Baker
Photo by: Richard Baker

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Austrian government filed a legal complaint on Monday against an EU-grant of £24.5 billion state aid for Britain’s new nuclear power plant at the European Court of Justice.

Austria claims that supporting Britain’s nuclear plant Hinkley Point C project will harm the energy market and is contrary to EU policy.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said that “subsidies are there to support modern technologies that lie in the general interest of all EU member states. This is not the case with nuclear power.”

Faymann said that the nuclear energy sources could no longer “survive economically” and stressed the importance of renewable energy.

"Instead of funding unsafe and costly energy forms that are outdated, we have to support Europe's energy turnaround with the expansion of renewable energies," Faymann added.

Britain and the EU agreed last October on building two nuclear reactors in south-west England, in return for which Britain will provide a 35-year fixed electricity rate to a French energy group building the reactors.

The EU initially organised a £16 billion budget for The Hinkley Point C project. However, officials recently announced that it is to cost nearly  £24.5 billion.

Britain’s department of energy and climate change spokesman answered complaints by saying "we are confident that the European Commission's state aid decision on Hinkley Point C is legally robust."

Austria has been known for its anti-nuclear attitudes and policies since 1970. All nuclear power imports have been banned since January in Austria.

Speaking to AFP, Austrian environment minister Andrae Rupprechter said that “[Nuclear power] is an energy source from the last century.”

"It is outdated because it's a non-sustainable, high-risk source that is only competitive with an unjustified subsidy," he added.

Dismissing nuclear energy as an outdated source, Rupprechter said that "the future lies in renewable resources and we have to create a level playing field to give these resources the fairness to compete in the market."

The construction of nuclear facilities became an issue between anti-nuclear Austria and pro-nuclear Britain. In February, the Financial Times claimed that British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened Austria when the country announced it would veto any nuclear expansion in the EU.

Despite the eagerness on expansion of the nuclear facilities of its neighbours Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Austria announced that it will block EU financial aid to Britain for new nuclear plants.

TRTWorld and agencies