British Gas owner Centrica pull out of UK nuclear plant construction

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Centrica has officially announced that it has pulled out of plans to build a number of new nuclear plants in the UK.

Ending months of speculation, the owner of British Gas announced its withdrawal from the plans on Monday (February 4) blaming huge costs and a number of delays as the main reasons for the decision.

Centrica had originally partnered with EDF, part of the Warm Home Discount Scheme, in plans to build two nuclear power plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset, and another two at Sizewell in Suffolk: Any work carried out on the construction of nuclear plants would be the first in the UK since 1995.

Centrica chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, said: "Since our initial investment, the anticipated project costs in new nuclear have increased and the construction timetable has extended by a number of years.

"These factors, in particular the lengthening time frame for a return on the capital invested in a project of this scale, have led us to conclude that participation is not right for Centrica and our shareholders."

The firm will now look to make investments elsewhere, specifically North America, North Sea natural gas and Race Bank - a Norfolk coast based wind farm project that the firm has in the pipeline.

Mr Laidlaw added: "In 2012 we invested over £2bn securing supplies of energy for the UK and where we see attractive returns we will continue to invest in Britain's energy future."

It has been suggested that EDF are now in talks with state-owned China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co. over the planned nulear plant constructions.

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