Written by Nigel Cann, Programme & Construction Delivery Director at Hinkley Point C
After years of work to get the project ready for approval, we are ready to build Hinkley Point C.
Beginning the construction of one of the largest engineering and building projects in Europe will mark the end of the development phase and the beginning of the human and industrial journey.
It’s a massive milestone for EDF Energy, and for the UK, with about £1bn per year being invested into the UK economy from Hinkley Point C. But it’s also a massive milestone for me. I’ve been working in nuclear power throughout the UK for over thirty years, starting as an apprentice technician, later running our Hinkley Point B power station and, for the last five years, getting ready to build Hinkley Point C.
So no-one will be prouder than me when we first start generating electricity.
Some people might be daunted to be having to deliver this project, but for me it’s fantastic – I’ve got the best job in the nuclear industry and the best job in UK construction!
But nobody here underestimates the scale of the challenge: 25,000 people will help build the power station; we will use 75 times more concrete than it took to build the Millennium Stadium; we are running a 175 hectare construction site.
We’re building park & rides, establishing and running dedicated bus routes, and creating accommodation for our workers both on and off-site.
Along with our partners, we’re also aiming to create 1,000 new apprenticeships throughout the lifetime of the project. That means many more young people will get opportunities like I did all those years ago.
We’ve been planning all of this working closely with our local communities, both in and around Hinkley Point and more widely across Somerset.
And we’ve already completed a number of road improvements, including a bypass, invested in Bridgwater College and Cannington Court – not to mention finding 200 jobs so far for local people through our Jobs Service.
We are ready
All this investment, all those jobs – and of course the UK’s urgent need for more low carbon power stations – mean that many people have been pressing us to start sooner.
But one of our key principles has always been to only start building once we are fully ready. And we’ve now reached that point.
It wasn’t easy to get here. The public consultation lasted nearly two years; the approval process for our UK-EPR nuclear reactor design took nearly four years, and required 850,000 hours of engineering studies.
We’ve secured planning permissions and environmental permits, agreed contracts with the Government and gained approval from the European Commission.
We’ve worked extensively with our industrial partners to plan the build – actually we’ve already ‘built’ Hinkley Point C in 3D computer model form, rather than just on paper.
That means we’ve already anticipated many of the practical construction challenges we’ll need to overcome, which will help us to build Hinkley Point C safely, on time, to quality and on budget.
We’ve planned delivery routes to reduce the local impact of the build, including a jetty we’re building so we can receive many of our materials by sea, and not by road.
We’ve worked with our local catering suppliers to plan how to feed the thousands of hungry workers we’ll have on-site at peak times.
And we’ve worked with the county, district, town and parish councils, and the people and groups who make up our wider community, to plan how to make the most of the opportunities a project of this size creates for the area and the region.
We are ready, and so are the local people and businesses who are vital to our success.
Proud of our world-class team and our partners
It’s our team and our partners who will deliver that success.
And we’ve assembled a world-class team that’s got the track record we need: people who have delivered the London 2012 Olympics, Heathrow Terminal 5, and other new nuclear power stations around the world.
We’ve planned the construction of Hinkley Point C with the trades unions, and with our contractors. We’ve got education and training partnerships, not least with Bridgwater and West Somerset College who have already trained local people and new apprentices who will work at Hinkley Point.
And we continue to work with councils across the area which, as I mentioned earlier, are key to ensuring the jobs and investment our project brings to Somerset are the catalyst for further growth.
We’re not just building a power station; we want to transform the local and regional economy, and to inspire the next generation of engineers, ready to meet the infrastructure challenges of the future, both here at home and across the globe.
An exciting industrial journey for the future of Britain starts today
This is an important year for the site as we build on the success of the preparation works already completed.
The site will start to get busier as we’re joined by engineers, ground workers, commercial and procurement experts, our project management and site teams.
They’ll be kicking off the big job of moving around 4 million cubic metres of earth, so the real civil engineering work can get underway.
And they’ll also be preparing for what lies ahead.
So it’ll be a very busy time as well as a very exciting one, and I know we’ve got the right team to deliver. We’re a positive, tight-knit group, and we understand what each other and the overall team has to deliver.
And whilst we’re confident, we’re also humble. We respect each other, and we respect our neighbours. It’s that approach that will deliver us a safe, successful site.
That in turn will deliver us the new nuclear power station where tomorrow’s apprentice technicians can start their careers.
I’ll be the proudest man in Somerset when they do.