The multi-billion pound project at Hinkley Point, Somerset will generate enough low carbon electricity to power the equivalent of five million households, making it one of the largest power stations in the UK.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Edward Davey, said: “The planning decision to give consent to Hinkley Point follows a rigorous examination from the Planning Inspectorate, and detailed analysis within my Department.

“I am confident that the planning decision I have made is robust, evidence-based, compatible with the Energy National Policy Statements and is in the best interests of the country.

“It’s vital to get investment in new infrastructure to get the economy moving. Low carbon energy projects will bring major investment, supporting jobs and driving growth.

Davey says the planned nuclear power station will generate vast amounts of clean energy and enhance the UK’s energy security.

As expected, the planning decision has caused concern for the renewable energy sector and environmental groups, who have said a drive in nuclear is likely to stifle investment in renewables projects.

Chief advisor on climate change at WWF-UK, Keith Allott, said: “Backing nuclear means shifting a huge liability to British taxpayers for the cost of building, electricity and crucially, dealing with the waste. Unlike renewable energy, the costs of nuclear keep on rising – as witnessed by the fact that the only reactors currently being built in Europe are massively over-budget and far behind schedule.”

“Focusing on renewables and energy efficiency, on the other hand, where the UK has huge potential to be an industrial leader, could deliver both huge cost reductions and a substantial boost to UK economic growth and manufacturing.”

In December 2012, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), along with the Environment Agency, approved the design for the nuclear reactor, designed by EDF and Areva, claiming it is suitable for construction and meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental impact.

Leigh Stringer

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie