Court rejects EDF works council appeal against Hinkley

28 October 2016

The High Court of Paris has rejected an appeal by EDF's Central Works Council (CEC) over the court's earlier rejection of its request to suspend the final investment decision for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project in the UK.

A consultation process between EDF and the CEC on the Hinkley Point C project began on 2 May. However, the works council claimed it had not been sufficiently informed and consulted by EDF and submitted its request to suspend any final decision to the Paris High Court on 22 June. EDF's board subsequently made its final investment decision on 28 July to go ahead with the £18 billion ($21.8 billion) project to construct two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point.

The works council's request was, however, rejected by the Paris High Court on 5 August and CEC subsequently appealed the court's ruling.

The court yesterday rejected CEC's appeal, citing a 21 September decision by France's supreme court of appeals, the Cour de Cassation. This decision stated that, for an appeal to be valid, a judge must make a ruling in such cases before the deadline for the works council to give its feedback.

A hearing for CEC's appeal was held in the Paris High Court on 22 September, the day after that decision. The judge said at that time the legal deadline for CEC to respond to EDF - 4 July - had already passed, so its appeal was declared inadmissible.

In a statement, CEC said, "This judgement makes it very difficult indeed for recourse in the courts, as [under] the Sapin [anti-corruption] law of June 2013, the judicial calendar does not correspond to the timetable for works council consultations." It added, "Indeed, the court proceedings are usually over two or three months (three months in our case) which automatically puts the works councils out of time under the set deadline."

Immediately after the long-awaited final investment decision for Hinkley Point C from the EDF board, the UK government said a review of the project would be carried out before the government committed its support. On 15 September, the government announced it had signed a revised agreement in principle with EDF for the project. The final agreements enabling construction of two EPR units at Hinkley Point C to proceed were signed by the UK government, EDF and China General Nuclear on 29 September.

Consisting of two European Pressurized Reactors, Hinkley Point C in Somerset, England will be the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in almost 20 years and will provide about 7% of the country's electricity. The first unit is currently expected to be commissioned in 2025-2026.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News