Regulatory approval from the European Commission has been given to two companies behind the construction and operation of the £18 billion (€23.2 billion) Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK.

The project is, however, becoming increasingly controversial, as its financing appears to be regarded more and more as a risky strategy for those involved.

The Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the partnership between EDF of France and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) of China in relation to the development, construction and operation of three nuclear power plants in the UK – Hinkley Point, Sizewell and Bradwell.

A Laing O’Rourke and Bouygues consortium (BYLOR) signed the main construction works contract for the Hinkley Point project last autumn.

The European Commission ruling came shortly after EDF’s finance director, Thomas Piquemal, left the company, reportedly having expressed fears that the project would adversely affect EDF’s financial position.

And French audit body the Cour des Comptes warned this week that EDF’s investment in the nuclear plant was risky.

EDF, however, said the decision of the European Commission to approve the proposed partnership between EDF and CGN supporting new nuclear projects in the UK was a positive step for the Hinkley Point C project.

EDF said, “It shows that the robust agreements underpinning the project continue to pass independent scrutiny.”

EDF confirmed that it was looking to take a final investment decision at Hinkley Point C in the near future.

It said, “The French and British governments have also recently expressed their support for the project which will supply low carbon electricity, meeting 7% of the UK’s needs.

“It will also enable the restart of new nuclear construction in Britain with important consequences and benefits for successive new nuclear projects, as well as for jobs and skills.”

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