UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has granted consent to EDF for construction of £18bn ($23bn) Hinkley C nuclear power plant in Somerset.

The 3.2GW project, which is said to be the first nuclear plant to be built in more than 20 years in the UK, will feature two EPR reactors, each with power generation capacity of 1.6GWh.

The consent from the UK’s nuclear regulator covers the placement of the concrete for the first safety-related structure at the plant, which is scheduled to be commissioned around 2025.

Expected to generate electricity required to meet about 7% of the UK”s power demand, the project is being developed by EDF in partnership with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN).

CGN has 33.5% stake in the project, which is expected to produce approximately 26TWh of power annually and will have an operational life of 60 years.

ONR new reactors program director and deputy chief nuclear inspector Mike Finnerty said that the consent is a key regulatory milestone marking start of construction of the first nuclear power station.

Finnerty said: “We have carried out extensive assessment of EDF’s safety case and preparedness for this important step PDF at Hinkley Point C.

“However, this does not give consent for all elements of construction. We will continue to regulate NNB GenCo’s activities and have implemented a number of hold-points to ensure we have full regulatory control over the various construction and commissioning stages through to start of operation.”

EDF NNB Generation Company (EDF), the licensee of the site, will now commence the placement of the structural concrete for the first nuclear safety-related structure at the project site.