The public enquiry into the construction of the European pressurised water reactor (EPR) at EdF’s Flamanville site, widely seen as a showcase for EdF’s nuclear engineering expertise, will start soon, prime minister de Villepin has announced. He said he had ‘decided to pursue the procedure’ of building an EPR at Flamanville, following conclusion of the ‘great national debate’ on the subject. ‘I ask the prefect of the Manche departement to launch the public inquiry before the summer’ he said. Under French law a public inquiry, conducted locally at a project site, lasts up to six weeks, with an additional month for the inquiry commission to prepare and submit its report. Calling the Flamanville reactor ‘essential for our country’s energy future’, de Villepin said the project would also benefit from legislation on nuclear safety and on nuclear waste management, now under advanced consideration in parliament..

However, current economic conditions, says EdF, have pushed the estimated cost of the development up by around 10% as steel and copper prices rise.

The project is now estimated to cost some euro 3.3 billion, giving an estimated generation cost of euro46/MWh, a slight increase compared with the initial estimates. Build is expected to start in 2007, with commissioning slated for 2012.