CHINA Light & Power (CLP) has decided not to take part in phase two of the Daya Bay nuclear power plant at Lingao in Guangdong because of a mismatch in timing and inflexibility on the part of the Chinese partners. CLP chairman Sir Sidney Gordon said yesterday that expected sluggish sales growth in Hong Kong over the next few years meant the company would delay, scale down or abandon some of its power-generating projects. 'We've had a lot of discussions to try to find a way to participate, but the fact is the timing is wrong,' Sir Sidney said after the annual general meeting. '[Phase two] will be ready in 2002 or 2003, and we won't need any more power at that time.' Participation in phase three of the Daya Bay project was still an option, he said, because the territory's largest electricity firm could need new capacity by the year 2005. Managing director Ross Sayers said the Chinese Government had been inflexible in demanding CLP not only contribute equity but purchase 70 per cent of the power from the 1,970 megawatt plant - slightly larger than phase one. He said CLP would have been willing to invest in the construction of the plant as long as it did not have to buy electricity. Legislators and anti-nuclear groups welcomed the news, saying CLP already had over-capacity and should not be involved in a plant which many people did not want built. But they expressed concern that lack of Hong Kong representation on the board of the new station would prevent local people from knowing what was going on. The Secretaries for Security and Economic Services are both on the board of CLP subsidiary Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Co, which owns 25 per cent of the 1,800 megawatt Daya Bay I plant. Deputy general manager of the Guangdong Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co and a CLP employee on secondment, Peter Chow Hai-yoong, said the utility had pulled out of talks 'very, very unwillingly'. CLP's Black Point natural gas station will start up next year, giving the utility about 40 per cent over capacity. One source questioned how China would be able to pay back loans to build the plant without the hard currency supplied from Hong Kong, but Mr Sayers said China would still proceed. Legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai, who has complained to the ombudsman about 'poor administration' of the electricity utilities and their over-capacity, welcomed the news. 'If we don't need the power we shouldn't be paying for it,' she said. But she agreed that Hong Kong and Guangdong people would be concerned about the plant's safety. This has come under fire following an unscheduled half-year shutdown of unit one when control safety rods did not drop into the reactors within the international speed standard.