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Going nuclear – Herbert Smith advises EDF on £16bn power plant deal

The UK government’s game-changing decision to build the first nuclear power plant for a generation has seen Herbert Smith Freehills advise longstanding client EDF Energy on the deal.

The £16bn agreement to build two European pressurised reactors at the Hinkley Point C site in Somerset is the culmination of two and a half years of negotiations between the two parties and Julia Pyke (pictured), a Herbert Smith partner and co-head of the firm’s nuclear group, told Legal Business ‘It has been immensely satisfying to reach this milestone.

‘The UK Government’s policy of encouraging low carbon power sources and greater self-sufficiency in energy generation will be bolstered by the agreement of this contract.’

Herbert Smith has advised EDF on all aspects of its nuclear plans since 2006, including energy, regulatory and corporate law, planning, real estate, environment, construction, finance, EU/State aid, competition and public law.

The Herbert Smith cross practice team was led by Pyke and also included Brussels-based competition partner Lode Van Den Hende who advised EDF on state aid.

The deal is worth around £16bn over 10 years, with investment also coming from the energy company alongside its two Chinese partners, China National Nuclear Corporation, and China General Nuclear Power Corporation in return for a guaranteed rate of £92.50 for every megawatt hour of power produced by the Somerset plant for 35 years.

Mark Newbery, global head of energy at Herbert Smith, said: ‘We are delighted to have advised EDF on the latest phase of this high-profile and strategically-important project. Today’s announcement marks a significant step forward for both the project and the wider industry, while showcasing the strength and breadth of HSF’s offering for international energy companies such as EDF.’