STOP Hinkley campaigners say they are dismayed” that Europe is set to approve the deal to build the proposed new nuclear power station.

And the group has now written to European Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, urging him to rethink his decision.

The commissioner has been investigating whether the terms of the subsidy deal between French energy firm EDF and the Government constituted illegal state aid.

Valerie Davey, for the Stop Hinkley group, said: “I read with dismay that the European Commission is on the verge of approving the deal to subsidise the proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C.

“This could mean that UK electricity consumers are saddled with paying out up to £17.6billion to EDF Energy and its Chinese partners over the 35 years from 2023.”

The group says in its letter to Mr Almunia: “A leaked paper, drafted by you, recommends that the project be approved almost entirely unchanged.

“Yet in December 2013, the Commission’s initial view raised doubts on almost all aspects of the project, stating that the “aid would in principle be incompatible under EU state aid rules”.

The letter adds: Surely the job of the European Competition Commissioner is to make sure taxpayers’ and electricity consumers’ money is spent on the most cost-effective measures to reduce carbon emissions and provide energy security.

“Please urgently reconsider this decision and order the UK Government to subject the Hinkley proposals to a proper competitive process.”

South-West Conservative MEP Ashley Fox said he welcomes the support from Mr Almunia.

He said: “This new reactor will provide enough low-carbon electricity to meet some 7% of the UK’s current electricity needs, and although it will take ten years to build it is expected to have an operational lifetime of 60 years.

“I warmly welcome this support from Mr Almunia.

Europe urgently needs to invest in more nuclear power in order to reduce our carbon emissions and to provide affordable, secure supplies of electricity.

“Some political parties might prefer us to return to the dark ages but I have written to the commission urging them to see the light and not to interfere in the ability of the UK to decide our own energy mix.”

Cllr Justine Baker, prospective LibDem Parliamentary candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said: “My concern is over the local infrastructure.

“Are there enough houses, school places, doctors’ surgeries? With the amount of traffic comes more pollution and congestion.

There are still questions that need more robust answers.

“Though we are being told work is being done on such issues, the scale of this build warrants huge consideration for the local community.

“I have massive concerns this isn't going to be a top priority when it absolutely should be.”