A WEEK after it emerged that EU commissioners investigating the deal to build Hinkley C were set to approve the deal, Austria’s government says it will challenge the decision.

The warning of a legal challenge from Austria follows reports suggesting that the EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who is responsible for ruling on competition, has found in favour of the deal to build the £16billion project.

French energy giant EDF's plans for the plant at Hinkley have been on hold while awaiting the outcome of a European Commission investigation into whether the terms of the subsidy deal struck with the British Government constituted illegal state aid.

Under the deal, EDF and its partners in the project will be guaranteed a price of £92.50 – twice the current market price of electricity - for each megawatt-hour of power that the reactors generate over a 35- year period.

But Austria’s minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Andra Rupprechter, told Austria's Kurier newspaper of his anger.

He said: “This scandal has to be fought by all legal means possible.”

He also added that he would apply to the European Court of Justice to have the decision annulled and that he will be doing all he can to change Almunia's mind on the decision.

Austrian Green MEP Michel Reimon told the Telegraph that Mr Almunia had shown “genuflection to the nuclear lobby”.

“It is incredible that Commissioner Almunia will make an exception for the nuclear industry by simply waving through this aid,”

he added.

Stop Hinkley Campaign spokesman Allan Jeffrey added: “Irrespective of what we think about the possibility of an accident or routine emissions of radioactivity into the environment, or the fact that there is no solution to dealing with the dangerous waste, this deal is economically bonkers”.

A spokesperson for EDF Energy said: “Confirmation that Vice- President Almunia recommends that the College of Commissioners approve the agreement on Hinkley Point C is another positive step forward for this vital project.

“The state aid investigation has been rigorous, robust and thorough and we expect that the College of Commissioners will recognise this.

“Hinkley Point C is an important project which will deliver Europewide objectives, offering the prospect of reliable, secure and low carbon electricity for many decades to come as well as boosting jobs and skills.”

EDF is expected to negotiate deals with Chinese nuclear companies who will take a stake in the business, before announcing its final investment decision.