A proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point has taken a "critical step" forward with energy giant EDF announcing its preferred bidder.
The Bouygues TP-Laing O'Rourke joint venture bid impressed EDF, which has awarded it the contract for civils work worth around £2 billion.
However, development of the site remains subject to the granting of planning consent and EDF taking its final investment decision at the end of this year.
"2012 is a defining year for new nuclear," explained EDF energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz.
"We will continue our discussions with government about agreeing a legally robust investment framework."
Commenting on the developments, energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey said:
"Today's announcement … is clear evidence of their commitment to nuclear in the UK."
Hinkley Point on the Severn Estuary has been identified by the government as one of eight possible locations for new nuclear power stations by 2025.
Author: Editor Gavin Pearson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 202 0255)