European Commission backs Hinkley deal

Reports that the European Commission (EC) has given the green light to a subsidy scheme that will enable the first new nuclear reactors to be built in Britain for nearly 20 years feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Guardian reports that the majority decision by a full assembly of 28 Commissioners is the last regulatory hurdle for EDF Energy and its £16 billion plan to construct Hinkley Point C in Somerset, South West England. But the newspaper reports that the EC "claimed that the decision had been made only after the financial arrangements put forward by the UK had been substantially modified to save cash for the British taxpayer". The newspaper adds that an Austrian representative spoke out against the deal and his country has promised "to launch legal action to halt the scheme - the first since Sizewell B was built in Suffolk".

The Telegraph reports that the plant will cost "at least £24.5 billion". The newspaper says this is "far higher than the £16 billion previously cited by developer EDF Energy predominantly because it includes, for the first time, the interest costs during the decade-long construction period. It is also in nominal terms, while the £16 billion was in 2012 prices".

A scheme involving smashing down a sea wall and allowing 183 hectares of West Sussex to be flooded has been named as the 2014 winner of the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award, the Guardian reports. The newspaper says that in a move "that may boost morale at the Environment Agency, which was heavily criticised over its response to last winter’s serious flooding despite having to cope with deep budget cuts, the agency’s project to destroy the existing sea wall at Medmerry and build four miles of new sea walls further inland was chosen ahead of far more glamorous projects for its success in protecting more than 300 homes from inundation".

The Liberal Democrats would guarantee that everybody living in a new garden city would be able to access parks or other green spaces within ten minutes, the Telegraph reports. The newspaper says the party leader, Nick Clegg, yesterday pledged to introduce "five green laws" in his party’s 2015 general election manifesto. The Guardian says Clegg summarised these as: "Laws that will commit British governments to reducing carbon from our electricity sector. Create new, legal targets for clean air and water. Give everyone access to green space. Massively boost energy efficiency and renewable energy. Prioritise the shift to green cars. Bring an end to dirty coal."

The Telegraph also reports that house prices in London have fallen for the first time in nearly four years, and will continue to do so, according to a leading property market barometer. The newspaper says that, "after the longest period of positive sentiment recorded by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), stretching back to January 2011, the industry body has finally reported a drop in values in the capital".

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