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EDF tells MPs nuclear power plant will go ahead

LONDON (Reuters) - The Hinkley Point nuclear power project in Britain will go ahead, EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz told MPs on Wednesday, though he did not give a definite schedule.

A road cuts through the site where EDF Energy's Hinkley Point C nuclear power station will be constructed in Bridgwater, southwest England October 24, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

The 18 billion pound project was announced in October 2013 but a final investment decision has been delayed as EDF secures partners and financing.

Chinese utility CGN signed up for a one-third stake in October, leaving EDF to fund the rest.

“Clearly and categorically, Hinkley Point C will go ahead,” de Rivaz said, speaking in front of parliament’s energy and climate change committee.

De Rivaz said EDF had spent 2.4 billion pounds so far developing the nuclear site in Somerset in the south of Britain.

He reiterated comments on Tuesday by French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron that EDF was expected to make a final investment decision in early May, but would not confirm this was a definitive schedule.

The French government last week said it was ready to provide the financial backing EDF needs to go ahead with the Hinkley Point project and De Rivaz said any French support would not increase costs for British consumers.

The project is part of British energy plans to replace ageing power plants and meet emission-reduction targets.

Two other groups are planning to build nuclear power plants in Britain: NuGen, which is a joint venture between Toshiba’s Westinghouse and France’s Engie, and Hitachi’s Horizon.

Industry experts told MPs that if Hinkley C did not go ahead it could have a knock on effect on the development of other nuclear projects in Britain.

However, both the other groups said the Hinkley delays had not deterred them from investing in projects in Britain and they were not dependent on Hinkley C proceeding.

NuGen Chief Executive Officer Tom Samson told MPs it plans to make a final investment decision on its Moorside nuclear plant in northwest England by the end of 2018.

Horizon Chief Operating Officer Alan Raymant said a decision on its Wylfa plant in Wales would be taken by the end of 2019.

Editing by Jason Neely and David Clarke