Govt green light for Hinkley Point nuclear plant expected today

Posted on 19 Mar 2013

The government is today expected to approve permission for French energy company EDF to start work on Hinkley C, the UK’s first new nuclear power plant to be built in Britain by the private sector.

The site at Hinkley Point in Somerset is “shovel ready”, preliminary construction planning – including new construction training courses at local colleges – is in place and the nuclear manufacturing supply chain is holding its collective breath.

Today energy secretary Ed Davey is expected to give the long awaited go-ahead to build the £14bn Hinkley C, the third nuclear power plant at this location near the River Severn.

Hinkley A was built in 1965 and is undergoing decommissioning. Hinkley B came online in 1979 but will be wound down in 2023. This new plant is expected to fill the void and more. With two power reactors, at capacity Hinkley C will generate enough power for five million homes, about 7% of the UK’s total electricity needs.

The total cost, likely to be in excess of £14bn and more than the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, will take about a decade and will require up to 5,600 jobs in construction at its peak.

Approval from the government is due by the end of March, the three month maximum consultation period following final planning approval by Somerset County Council, and the announcement is scheduled today (March 19).

Assuming the vast infrastructure project is approved, the ultimate decision on breaking the ground rests with EDF itself. The French utility’s decision will come down to money, and whether the company believes it can make a viable return on this enormous investment.

A flurry of activity is happening around the UK in preparation for a new nuclear industry, with organisations including the Nuclear AMRC in Rotherham and the Nuclear Industries Association helping companies to get “fit for nuclear” with the necessary tools and documents to supply parts for nuclear power stations.