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EDF threatened with possible legal challenge over Hinkley C subsidies

A tractor mows a field on the site where EDF Energy's Hinkley Point C nuclear power station will be constructed in Bridgwater, southwest England in this file photograph taken October 24, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Greenpeace and renewable energy supplier Ecotricity on Friday threatened to take legal action against the Hinkley C nuclear power plant in Britain if the French government offers financial support for the project.

The 18 billion pound project was announced in October 2013 but developer Electricite de France has stalled on making a final investment decision while it secures partners and financing.

“Ecotricity and Greenpeace have today written to the UK and French governments and EDF Energy, warning that any further state aid for Hinkley Point nuclear power station could be illegal,” Ecotricity said in a statement.

“Ecotricity and Greenpeace would be prepared to challenge further state funding in the courts.”

Britain has already offered EDF a guaranteed price for electricity from Hinkley C for 35 years at almost three times the current market rate and promised a 2 billion pound loan, which was given the green light by the European Commission.

Last month French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said that France is willing to recapitalise EDF and possibly renounce a cash dividend to help the company.

Environmental group Greenpeace also published a legal opinion on Friday from three competition and EU law barristers from Monckton Chambers warning that any possible funding routes by the French government would constitute state aid.

“It would be difficult to justify such further measures as being compatible with the internal market,” the barristers said.

EDF declined to comment.

Reporting By Susanna Twidale; Editing by David Goodman