Ministers have kickstarted the construction of Sizewell C, committing £1.3bn to vital infrastructure works for the controversial nuclear mega-project.
The government released the cash from its existing budgets to ensure road, rail lines and other services close to the Suffolk site are upgraded ahead of the main build phase.
Once operational, Sizewell C is expected to generate 3.2GW of electricity, enough to power 6 million households for more than 60 years.
It was granted planning consent 18 months ago, although campaigners insisted they would “continue to challenge every aspect” of the project.
Conditions placed on developer EDF were met earlier this month, triggering the formal approval and prompting the government to release further cash.
Nuclear minister Andrew Bowie said: “We are making fantastic progress on the next gigawatt-scale power plant in the UK’s nuclear pipeline.
“This investment injection means we can steam ahead with work on Sizewell C ahead of the final investment decision targeted later this year.
“It’s a win for our energy security and sends a strong message to investors that Britain is serious about its low-carbon, home-grown, nuclear-powered future.”
Sizewell C managing directors Julia Pyke and Nigel Cann said in a joint statement that the “significant” investment “means we can step up activity in Suffolk and deliver on our commitments to local communities”.
More than two-thirds of the value of the construction project will be awarded to UK businesses, under plans drawn up by EDF.
A consortium of Jacobs, Setec, Tractebel and Egis was chosen in late 2022 as the design team for the project.