The village of Bradwell-on-Sea on the Essex coast is so remote that one local newspaper likened a visit to “driving along the edge of the world”. It sits on a gravel and sand ridge surrounded by marshland. One of Britain’s earliest nuclear power stations, now decommissioned, stands just a mile away, and locals joke that it “glows in the dark”. This Mecca for birdwatchers and hikers may seem an unlikely global flashpoint, but what happens here on the mouth of the Blackwater River will be a key test of UK-China relations and Britain’s resolve to take a tougher line on investment that could threaten national security. Although a decision on construction has yet to be taken, Ofgem, the electricity market regulator, has granted a generating licence to a company that plans to build a Chinese-designed nuclear reactor in Bradwell. The little-noticed December decision was hailed by the China-controlled Bradwell Power Generation Company as an “important milestone”. Under a deal struck in 2015, at the height of David Cameron’s so-called ‘golden era’ of relations, China’s state-owned nuclear group CGN would be allowed to build its own nuclear power station at Bradwell in exchange for financially backing two French-led projects. This, in spite of CGN being accused by the US government of stealing US technology for military use and placed on the US ‘entity list’, which effectively bans US companies from doing business with it. Washington has warned against partnering with the company.
New European 8th June 2021 read more »