By Michael Wilkinson, Political Correspondent
14 September 2016 • 2:03pm
Theresa May will finally allow the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear power plant to go ahead, it has been reported.
The Prime Minister had delayed on whether to give the flagship energy project the go-ahead until she had looked over the plans personally.
Mrs May’s official spokeswoman stressed that the deadline for a decision on Hinkley Point remained the end of September.
There had been speculation that any announcement would have to be made on Thursday this week, when the Commons rises for a recess lasting until October 10.
But the spokeswoman said: “We made very clear when we set out the timetable in July that it would be by the end of September. We did that knowing the parliamentary timetable.”
Animation: How Hinkley Point power plant will be built Animation: How Hinkley Point power plant will be built Play! 02:30.
Theresa May and Chinese president Xi Jinping meet at the G20 conference. Credit PA
Asked whether the decision has to be announced in the Commons, the spokeswoman said only that ministers will “keep Parliament updated on the decision moving forward”.
She added: “There is no update on this. We have set out very clearly what is going on. We are committed to making a decision by the end of the month. That’s the approach.
“We haven’t taken the decision yet. The Prime Minister has not been in touch with the Chinese.”
Earlier ITV News reported that Downing Street and the Department for Business and Energy are working “flat out” to reach an agreement before the end of this week.
Mrs May is said to have wanted to make an announcement on Monday but eleventh hour concerns by Business Secretary Greg Clarke put the brakes on the agreement once more.
The £18billion plan for the Somerset site was unexpectedly put on hold when Mrs May took up office in July but she promised a decision by September.
China’s president Xi Jinping and French president François Hollande have been eagerly awaiting Mrs May’s decision because the plan is being paid for by the French energy giant EDF and the Chinese General Nuclear Power Corporation.
A phone call was said to have been scheduled between Theresa May and Mr Hollande on Monday afternoon to confirm that the Prime Minister would go ahead with the Hinkley Point scheme.
However, the planned phone conversation with the Elysée Palace was postponed, reports ITV, after Business Secretary Greg Clark’s eleventh hour questions about the scheme.
Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union, said: “Giving the thumbs up to Hinkley is vital to fill the growing hole in the UK’s energy supply needs.
“It will be a big relief for the 25,000 quality jobs which were put at risk by the latest delay, never mind the reputational damage inflicted on UK plc.
“The GMB has always had reservations about linking Bradwell and Sizewell with the contract for Hinkley. The Government should never have allowed the country to be held over a Chinese barrel.”
The review of the Hinkley Point scheme comes amid concerns about the high cost of energy from the proposed Somerset plant, and the security implications of Chinese involvement in a piece of critical national infrastructure.
Hinkley Point Breakout Box
EDF estimate of construction cost
Capacity of plant
Number of homes it could power
People to be employed on site at peak construction
Total number of jobs that could be created
Price to be paid (in 2012 money) for each MWh unit of electricity – more than double the current market price of power
Duration of subsidy contract agreed by ministers
Earliest expected date for first power to be generated
Photo: Chinese flags line The Mall for Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK, London, October 2015
Tags: Britain, Business Secretary Greg Clarke, China, Chinese General Nuclear Power Corporation, EDF, France, French energy giant EDF, French President Francois Hollande, GMB, Hinkley Point, ITV, Theresa May, UK, UK's energy supply, Xi Jinping