SOMERSET County Council and partners have welcomed comments from EDF Energy about the Hinkley Point C development.

Speaking in front of parliament's Energy and Climate Change Committee, EDF Energy Chief Executive, Vincent de Rivaz gave further commitment that the project will be moving forward.

"Clearly and categorically, Hinkley Point C will go ahead,” Mr Rivaz told the committee.

Mr de Rivaz said everyone was working on the final stage to "make it happen" but, despite being pressed by MPs, he declined to give an actual date for the final investment decision.

"This project is absolutely critical and has the full support of the French government and the British government. Everything is aligning at the moment - it is very positive."

EDF will bear any risk from the project, he said.

The comments have been welcomed by Councillor David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, Steve Hindley, chairman of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and Dale Edwards, chief executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce.

Cllr Hall said: “It is clear to see now just how close EDF Energy and the British and French governments are to that all important final investment decision.  

“Today’s committee meeting and the recent support for Hinkley Point C shown by both governments give us confidence that a positive decision will be made very soon.”

In recent weeks both British and French governments have reiterated their support for the project which will supply low carbon electricity, meeting seven per cent of the UK’s needs.

It will also enable the restart of new nuclear construction in Britain with important consequences and benefits for successive new nuclear projects, as well as for jobs and skills.

Cllr Hall added: “Somerset County Council and HotSW LEP continue to work together in support of a Final Investment Decision for the Hinkley Point C site in Bridgwater.”

Mr Hindley said: “A green light for the Hinkley development will be of regional and national importance, positioning the Heart of the South West as the market leader for the UK’s future energy security.

“We are looking to the Government and EDF Energy to continue their efforts to help achieve that final investment decision soon.

"The LEP’s role is to drive economic growth, and Hinkley Point has the potential to have a huge impact - generating £20bn investment with 60% projected supply chain opportunities, creating 25,000 jobs during construction and £100m a year for the regional economy."

And Dale Edwards, from the chamber of commerce, said work was ongoing to prepare for the development, should the green light come.

"While we await the final investment decision from EDF Energy, we are continually working behind the scenes with partners and businesses, helping to get local suppliers 'Hinkley ready' so that they are in a strong position to bid for and win future contracts," he said.

However, Green MEP for the South West, Dr Molly Scott-Cato, has endorsed the views of leading energy experts who have called for the Hinkley C nuclear project to be scrapped.

The group told MPs on the Energy and Climate Change committee that Hinkley is ‘very bad value for money, and it was time to ‘pull the plug’ on the deal.

Dr Scott-Cato said: “It is clear from today's committee hearing that no one has any confidence in this white elephant anymore.

"The only people left defending it are those who will have radioactive egg on their faces when it goes belly-up – EDF; the French government; Cameron and Osborne and a few Tories who are blindly playing follow my leader.”