A key figure in the development of the long-awaited Hinkley Point C nuclear power project has left the scheme, with a final decision to progress with it still awaited.
Project promoter EDF Energy said Hinkley Point C project director Chris Bakken was returning to the US to pursue new opportunities.
Bakken, who has driven the Somerset new nuclear scheme for the last six years, will be replaced by EDF Energy Generation chief nuclear officer Philippe Bordarier.
Contractors were originally expecting a final investment decision from project promoter EDF on Hinkley Point C by the end of 2014.
But despite a much-publicised agreement between the French energy giant and China General Nuclear Corporation in October, this final investment decision has still not been forthcoming. The ongoing wait was last week described by civils firms as “extremely disappointing”.
EDF said in a statement this week: “Chris Bakken has decided to return to the US, his home country, to pursue new professional opportunities while allowing him to spend more time with his family.”
It added: “Chris joined the New Nuclear Build business unit when it was established in 2009 and since shortly after has been the Hinkley Point C project director. In this capacity, he played a major role in the development of the project, in particular to make sure the project is ready for final investment decision and set up to succeed.”
Meanwhile EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz told the Parliamentary Group on Energy Studies on Monday: “A few days ago our chairman Jean-Bernard Lévy said in public that the project was ready for a final investment decision to be taken very soon.
“The French minister for the economy reaffirmed very clearly the commitment of the French Government to Hinkley Point C and its support for EDF. I can tell you that I am absolutely confident that Hinkley Point C will be reaching a final investment decision soon.”