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Reports Johnson has given nuclear plant finance green light a ‘dodgy decision’, campaigners say

File handout photo dated 15/05/22 of people protesting opposing the building of the Sizewell C nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast. Boris Johnson has greenlit funding for a new multibillion-pound nuclear power station, triggering concerns among some of Liz Truss's allies that it could limit her economic vision. Issue date: Sunday August 21, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Tories Sizewell. Photo credit should read: Gregg Brown/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Boris Johnson has reportedly given the go-ahead to funding for the new Sizewell C nuclear power station during his last weeks in office.

Whitehall sources told The Sunday Times that the Prime Minister and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi “took a decision in principle to part-fund the proposed construction of the Sizewell C nuclear reactor in Suffolk several weeks ago without telling other ministers.”

Private funding is to be sought for the project, which is estimated to cost up to £30bn, with the Government expected to put forward a proposed 20 per cent stake of up to £6bn when a final decision on public investment is made early next year.

The plant is thought to be critical to the UK’s energy independence amid rising demand on the grid and the threat of Russia limiting gas supplies, with a plan laid out by Mr Johnson in April warning that up to eight new reactors will be needed in the next decade to ensure clean and affordable energy. Sizewell C’s two reactors will provide 3.2 GW of generation capacity – around a tenth of the UK’s average energy demand.

But campaign group Stop Sizewell C told i: “Whichever way you look at it, this is a very dodgy decision.

“Has it been made by a lame-duck PM who is not supposed to tie the hands of his successor, or was it in fact made before Sizewell C was granted planning consent, lending serious weight to our conviction that this was a prejudiced, political decision?

“Our next Prime Minister should call Sizewell C in: there are so many better ways to spend billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money than on a project that won’t light a single lightbulb for at least a decade.”

Plans have already been approved to build the new nuclear plant next to Sizewell B nuclear power station (pictured) in Sizewell, Suffolk (Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA)

The Sizewell C power plant was granted planning permission in July but until now there appeared to be no decision on funding.

While essentially a caretaker Prime Minister after being forced to resign over a succession of scandals, Mr Johnson previously said he would not be making major decisions before leaving office.

However, The Sunday Times reported a senior official had confirmed “the decision had been taken in principle” and the “PM is very keen on it”.

Boris Johnson and the Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi are reported to have taken the decision in principle over the plant’s funding ‘several weeks ago’ (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The decision was said to have been made with Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng with sources telling the Sunday Times “no one is more enthusiastic than Kwasi”.

It comes as the Government seeks to shore up energy supplies and create energy security as prices soar in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A government spokesperson said: “Nuclear power has a key role to play as we work to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to volatile global gas prices.

“Negotiations are still ongoing on Sizewell C and as these are active and commercially sensitive discussions we cannot comment further.”

Although Mr Kwarteng, tipped to be Ms Truss’s chancellor if she wins the Tory leadership race, is reported to be on board with the plans, a leaked letter to The Sunday Times revealed not all in her camp agree.

A letter from Simon Clarke, chief secretary to the Treasury, appeared to raise concerns the costs of the project are “sufficient to materially affect spending and fiscal choices for an incoming government, especially in the context of wider pressures on the public finances”.

Another of Truss’s senior aides is reported to have said a taxpayer-funded stake in the power plant may limit her economic plans.

The Tory leader candidate has pledged vast tax cuts, including a reversal of the national insurance hike costing at least £30bn per year if she is successful next month.

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