A DEAL which will see the final piece of the jigsaw for work on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset slot into place has moved a step closer.

Chancellor George Osborne has announced that the UK will allow Chinese companies to take a stake in British nuclear power plants, including the proposed plant on the Somerset coast.

And Newsqest Somerset - publishers of the Bridgwater Mercury and Somerset County Gazette - understands an announcement could be made on Monday regarding the project.

EDF Energy and Government officials have been locked in negotiations over a guaranteed energy price but the Chancellor's announcement that Chinese firms could act as investment partners in the project is believed to have advanced the talks.

If built, Hinkley C will be the first new nuclear power station since 1995.

It is believed that Chinese companies could end up owning around a third of Hinkley C. Three nuclear giants - CGN, CNNC and SNPTC, are understood to have been in talks with EDF.

Energy Minister Ed Davey this week said he believed a "massive" wave of investment from China, Japan and Korea would secure UK's power supply into the future.

On the prospect of Chinese investment in Hinkley, Sedgemoor District Council leader Cllr Duncan McGinty said: “We welcome the statement from the Chancellor during his visit to China.

"While he does not specifically reference funding for Hinkley Point C, this memorandum of understanding on civil nuclear collaboration is an important step on a long journey before Hinkley Point C starts generating electricity for the nation.

"We continue to work to ensure local people receive fair and reasonable benefit from hosting nationally-important infrastructure.”