Conservative MEPs representing the West Country today welcomed a decision by the European Commission giving  the go ahead for the new reactor at Hinkley Point, Somerset.

The proposed development had been the subject of a lengthy investigation by officials within the Competition Commission as to whether the funding package for the new reactor constitutes ‘state aid’ in contravention of EU law. This investigation has now concluded and the plans have been approved.

It is estimated that the Hinkley Point C reactor will cost £16 billion and will provide 25,000 employment opportunities throughout its decade-long build time, and once completed will need a permanent work force of over 900.

Ashley Fox,  Conservative energy spokesman in the European Parliament, said: “The Hinkley C Reactor will provide seven per cent of the entire UK's electricity needs. This  decision not only paves the way for a whole new generation of nuclear power stations across the UK but also unlocks billions of pounds of private investment into the South West’s economy.”

“If we are serious about meeting our energy demands with a low carbon, affordable and reliable energy source then the decision to build more nuclear power stations is obvious. I hope that we can all support this exciting project and work together to ensure that the development in Somerset provides the right investment to support the large work force that is needed.”

Fellow Conservative MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, Julie Girling, said: "We've already had a strong indication that this would happen and I'm delighted to welcome this official confirmation that the EU will not put up any barriers to Hinkley's development.

"I am disappointed to see that Molly Scott Cato MEP is leading the Green Party Campaign in Brussels to prevent this development. Encouraging the Austrian government to take legal action against the decision could lead to further delays and much higher costs to taxpayers. Hinkley will make a vital contribution to keeping the lights on in coming years and should be wholeheartedly supported by all the region's MEPs."