LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese nuclear firms are considering investing 35 billion pounds in building up to five new nuclear reactors in Britain, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
A team from the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI), an arm of the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), met senior British officials in the past week, the Guardian newspaper said on its website.
The first part of the plan would involve CNNC and another state-owned firm, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation, bidding in two separate groups against each other for a stake in the Horizon project, it said.
The paper, citing unnamed sources close to the Chinese, said the Chinese are also interested in other locations at Bradwell in Essex, in the southeast, Heysham in Lancashire and Hartlepool in County Durham, both in northern England.
"The Chinese have the money and the experience," the paper quoted a source close to the Chinese as saying.
"They see setting up in the UK as an opportunity to show they can operate in one of the world's toughest regulatory environments so they can then move into other markets in Africa and the Middle East."
The French company EDF is also interested in building new reactors in Britain.
CNNC would look to use an existing technology tie-up with US-based nuclear engineering group Westinghouse to potentially build three more reactors, the paper said.
It would likely need to bring in a UK utility firm to operate the plants, the Guardian added.
Britain was "open for business," subject to regulatory rules, a spokeswoman at the Department of Energy and Climate Change said in a statement.
"With regards to Horizon, as outlined from the start of the process, it is in the UK's interest that the Horizon sites continue to have the potential to be developed.
"The Government continues to talk to any interested partners and investors about all aspects of the UK's policy and commitment to new nuclear."
Horizon is one of the UK's biggest nuclear projects.
The Gloucester-based joint venture owns two nuclear sites, at Oldbury near Bristol and Wylfa on Anglesey, where it plans to build 6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity with an investment of 15 billion pounds.
(Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Richard Chang)