THE chief executive of EDF Energy has said that construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant should begin early next year, despite financial pressures.

The French energy firm’s chief executive Vincent de Rivaz made the comments during his speech at a recent Nuclear Industries Association conference.

He said more legal and other work is needed to be completed before EDF could give the long-awaited final investment decision on Hinkley Point, but he was confident that a decision would be made in the first quarter of 2015 – March at the latest.

He added discussions with potential new and existing foreign shareholders to the project were continuing.

Doubts have been raised that French firm Areva, which is designing the Hinkley C reactor, will be able to find the funds to take its 10% stake in the project.

Two Chinese groups have already agreed to take between 30 and 40% and EDF will have a stake of between 45 and 50%.

Mr de Rivaz admitted that delays at its Flamanville plant in France were a setback, but insisted they would not impact financially on the British project, which is using the same European pressurised reactor (EPR) technology