Austria to file EU complaint against UK nuclear plant

The site in western England where EDF proposes to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant (AFP Photo/Justin Tallis) (AFP)

Vienna (AFP) - Austria will next week officially file a legal complaint in Brussels against state subsidies for Britain's planned new Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, the government in Vienna said Tuesday.

"We cannot accept that a technology such as this being portrayed through subsidies as being modern, sustainable and future-oriented," Chancellor Werner Faymann said after a cabinet meeting.

The complaint, which Vienna had already threatened in September and which will be filed next Monday, "is also of symbolic value against nuclear power," the centre-left Faymann said.

The Hinkley Point project in southwest England, where France's EDF is to build two reactors, is a major boost to the nuclear industry four years after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Despite opposition from activists and several member states, the European Commission approved the project in October after Britain modified funding plans for the £16-billion ($26-billion, 18.9-billion-euro) deal.

A spokeswoman for Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "We are confident that the European Commission's state aid decision on Hinkley Point C is legally robust and have no reason to believe that Austria will submit a challenge of any merit."

Environmentalists see Hinkley Point as an unnecessary support of nuclear energy just when the use of renewables, such as wind and solar power, is beginning to take hold.

But the EU Commission insists that the choice of energy source, no matter how controversial, is strictly up member states. EU member Austria has no nuclear power stations.