WAS he pushed or did he jump? Speculation is rife over the sudden departure of EDF’s finance director Monsieur Thomas Piquemal.

Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger told the Mercury that it was “no surprise” that he had gone as he had not been keen on the Hinkley C project from the beginning. He said that Mr Piquemal “had never been happy with the project” which from his point of view it “wasn’t a bad thing” he had gone.

His departure came shortly after the meeting between David Cameron and Francois Hollande that reaffirmed the French Government’s backing for the multi-billion pound nuclear power station near Bridgwater. EDF is largely controlled by the occupant of the Élysée Palace in Paris and owned by the French Government. There has been speculation in the media including the BBC’s Kamal Ahmed that Mr Piquemal’s “fate had been sealed” at the meeting between the two heads of state when a communique was issued backing the project.

It was widely reported the former finance director had been against Hinkley C as he felt it put the future financial stability of EDF in danger. His has not been the only voice in France to suggest the project’s fiscal arrangements were not viable with the increasing costs in building the nuclear reactor.

Jean-Bernard Levy, EDF group CEO said: "Thomas Piquemal told me of his resignation last week, which was made public last night. I regret the haste of his departure, and I immediately appointed Xavier Girre to the position of CFO on a provisional basis.

"With the support of its shareholder, the state, EDF can confirm that it is looking to invest in two reactors at Hinkley Point under the best possible financial conditions for the group, with the objective of making a final investment decision in the near future.

"EDF relies on very strong operational results, the internal transformation and the savings plans launched in 2015, and on investments in support of the energy transition and the renewal of the nuclear industry."

Mr Liddle Grainger also insisted that the project will go ahead despite the set-backs but his assertion is not shared by the critics of the project. Stop Hinkley’s Roy Pumfrey said: “The Financial Times says Piquemal deserves the thanks of UK energy consumers who could yet escape paying the excessive price of an unproven project. The newspaper has already said the case against the nuclear power station is hard to refute.”

And Molly Scott Cato MEP of the Greens said we should abandon the nuclear project and follow Germany’s example and build other sources of energy. She said: “The consequence of putting all our radioactive eggs into one basket is that we are now left with insufficient energy to meet our needs in the medium term; our political reputation in tatters; electricity prices so high that businesses are at risk; lives threatened through fuel poverty; and an energy policy that is illogical and senseless.”

Do you think the power station will be built or is this the beginning of the end? Your views to harry.mottram@nqsw.co.uk