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Austria to sue UK over nuke subsidies

June 23, 2015

Austria is lining up a legal complaint against the UK over its portrayal of nuclear power as a "modern, sustainable" energy source, when it is to be supported by state subsidies. The complaint is "symbolic," Vienna said.

Atomkraftwerk Hinkley Point in Großbritannien
Image: picture-alliance/Simon Chapman/LNP

"We cannot accept that a technology such as this being portrayed through subsidies as being modern, sustainable and future-oriented," Chancellor Werner Faymann said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

"This is a further important step in our anti-nuclear policy, which aims to make Europe nuclear-free in the long run," Faymann said. "Subsidies should support new and modern technologies, which is not the case with nuclear energy," he said.

The complaint, which was to be be filed on Monday at the European Court of Justice, "is also of symbolic value against nuclear power," the center-left Faymann said.

The complaint is specifically against the Hinkley Point project in southwest England, where France's EDF is to build two reactors. That is considered a major boost to the nuclear industry four years after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Despite opposition from activists and several member states, the European Commission approved the project in October after Britain modified funding plans for the £16-billion ($26-billion,18.9-billion-euro) deal.

Environmentalists see Hinkley Point as an unnecessary support of nuclear energy just when the use of renewables, such as wind and solar power, is beginning to take hold.

But the EU Commission insists that the choice of energy source, no matter how controversial, is strictly up to member states. Austria has no nuclear power stations.

bk/hg (dpa, AFP)