The UK government faces the possibility of being ordered by the United Nations to open talks with other countries over the potential impacts of the long-awaited Hinkley Point C nuclear project.
A report from a UN committee has concluded that the UK breached international law in not notifying countries that could be affected by the £18bn Somerset scheme.
It could represent yet another setback for the oft-delayed project.
The report from the Implementation Committee of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) said proposals for Hinkley Point C “warrant the conclusion that a significant adverse transboundary impact cannot be excluded in case of a major accident, accident beyond the design-base, or disaster”.
“The committee also finds that, as a consequence of its conclusion concerning the likely significant adverse transboundary environmental impact, the UK is in non-compliance with its obligations under article 2, paragraph 4, and article 3, paragraph 1 of the Convention,” the report added.
The committee recommended that a meeting of state parties to the convention next year “invite the UK to enter into discussions with possibly affected parties… in order to agree on whether notification is useful at the current stage for this proposed activity”.
The UK could then be asked to report back on these talks.
A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “Compliance with international obligations is something we take very seriously. We are confident that we have met the relevant international requirements in relation to Hinkley Point C.
“We have world-leading nuclear safety regulations in the UK, which Hinkley Point C would have to comply with.”