HELSINKI (Reuters) - The Finnish government has decided to conditionally back an updated application from Finnish-Russian group Fennovoima to build a nuclear reactor in the north of the country, prompting the Greens to quit the administration.
The permit for the 1,200 megawatt plant still has to pass a parliament vote, but that is seen as likely since most parliamentarians in the four biggest parties are expected to support the project.
Fennovoima won a general go-ahead for the plant in 2010, but changes in the planned reactor's size and supplier required a renewed approval.
The Green party will resign from the coalition, party leader and environmental minister Ville Niinisto told reporters. The departure of the Green party's 10 MPs would leave the ruling coalition with a slim parliament majority, having 102 MPs against the opposition's 98.
The government was also due to decide whether to extend a new permit for Teollisuuden Voima's troubled Olkiluoto site, but economy minister Jan Vapaavuori told reporters that decision was set aside for later consideration as requested by the Social Democrats, second-biggest party in the coalition. TVO's biggest owners include Finnish companies Fortum, UPM-Kymmene and Stora Enso.
The Fennovoima plant, owned by Russia's Rosatom and about 40 Finnish companies such as steel firm Outokumpu, is scheduled to start operating in 2024.
However, the government said Fennovoima must boost its Finnish ownership by next summer to at least 60 percent. Currently, Finnish owners have committed to a stake of 52 percent, while Rosatom has a stake of 34 percent.
Several investors have pulled out of the project costing between 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) and 6 billion, and the Ukraine crisis has further complicated the search for new funding.
(1 US dollar = 0.7763 euro)
(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by David Holmes)