A LEADING environmental charity is warning Scottish firms to beware of damage to their reputations after they were named as contractor favourites for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset.

French energy giant EDF yesterday announced its preferred bidders for the UK’s first such facility in more than 20 years.

The list includes three Scottish firms – the Weir Group, Doosan Babcock and Clyde Union Pumps – which will find out in the coming months if they have been successful.

But Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, told The National: “With one false start already, active legal action in Europe and a spectacular history of cost overruns and missed deadlines, getting involved with the nuclear industry is a huge reputational risk.”

He added: “Scottish engineering firms should be helping us exploit our huge potential in renewable energy rather than chasing the nuclear dream.”

EDF said the £1.3 billion project would create more than 25,000 jobs during the construction phase, adding it hoped to confirm the contracts “as soon as possible”. The company said 60 per cent of the value of the contracts would be awarded to UK firms.

Hinkley C was given the go-ahead in October 2013, after being identified as one of eight potential sites in England and Wales for new nuclear power stations.

The two Hinkley reactors are expected to provide power for about 60 years and it is hoped the plant will meet seven per cent of UK demand.

The EU approved the project last year after the Government agreed a subsidy contract with EDF, but the development is far from certain, with a challenge by Austria to the subsidy and green groups pondering a legal challenge.

Negotiations between the French company and potential investment partners have yet to result in a final decision.

Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “This announcement is a reminder that the UK Conservative Government is in denial about the disastrous economics of new nuclear. Scottish consumers face paying to line the pockets of multinationals like EDF who have been promised double the current market price of power for the next 35 years. And that doesn’t take into account the ... toxic waste legacy that this deal will simply add to.”