Britain’s first new nuclear power station for a generation could be given the final go ahead today.
The board of French energy firm EDF is meeting later and is expected to give investment approval for the completion of a new plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
The power station was originally meant to open next year but that has now slipped to 2025.
It will replace Hinkley Point B, which is due to be decomissioned next decade.
He said: “The go-ahead is desperately needed on a number of grounds – to help keep the lights on in Britain in the decades ahead and as a fulcrum for the creation of thousands of jobs and related economic activity in the West Country.”
With many traditional power stations nearing the end of their lives, supporters say Hinkley Point C is a way of helping to provide energy security in the future.
However, opponents fear it is a bad deal for customers and taxpayers.
That is because the UK government has guaranteed a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour for the electricity Hinkley produces for 35 years – more than double the current price.
The cost of wholesale energy has fallen since the price was agreed, leaving the government to make up the difference.
The UK’s National Audit Office estimated future top-up payments would rise from £6.1bn to £29.7bn over the length of the contract.
Recently, Chancellor Philip Hammond said the scheme was “still worth the cost”, with the Government suggesting that customers’ bills would rise by about £10 once the plant was up and running.
Energy analyst Tom Burke, Chairman of Third Generation Environmentalism, told Sky News it was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“I think it offers expensive solutions and ones that are unreliable. We could probably achieve Hinkley and probably the whole nuclear programme a lot cheaper if we went ahead with investing in renewables and investing in energy efficiency.”
The project has also attracted controversy over the likely involvement of Chinese funding – a third of the total cost.
Others, meanwhile, worry about the potential risk of a nuclear disaster.
Stop Hinkley campaigner Allan Jeffery warned: “If it was to have an accident there would be large amounts of radioactivity going all over the southwest of England.”
EDF declined to comment ahead of the meeting but has previously said that the plant meets “stringent safety standards” and is a good deal for consumers.