Austria plans to appeal EU ruling on UK's Hinkley Point nuclear plant

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria plans to appeal against a ruling by Europe’s second-highest court which rejected its objections to Britain’s plans for a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, the country’s sustainability minister said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Nuclear reactors A (left) and B are seen at Hinkley Point nuclear power station near Cannington in southwest England on January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

“Our lawyers have examined this in detail in the past weeks. We believe the chances of an appeal remain intact,” Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger said in an interview with newspaper Kronen Zeitung.

The ministry said it expects Austria’s cabinet to formally give the go-ahead for an appeal when it meets on Wednesday.

French utility EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corp aim to have the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station on line in 2025 with costs for the project seen at 19.6 billion pounds ($25.3 billion).

The European Commission cleared the project in 2014, saying it did not see any competition issues. But Austria took its objections to the General Court in Luxembourg, which dismissed them in July.

One aspect Vienna objects to is a guaranteed price for electricity from the plant which is higher than market rates. It also opposes state credit guarantees of up to 17 billion pounds being provided for the project.

Austria can appeal to the European Court of Justice but only on matters of law.

Opposition to nuclear power is widespread in Austria, which built a nuclear reactor but never brought it on line.

Voters rejected plans to bring it into operation in a referendum in 1978 and the reactor, at Zwentendorf on the Danube northwest of Vienna, now serves as a training center.

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Reporting by Francois Murphy; editing by Jason Neely