24 Jan 11

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change visits Hinkley Point and opens new Energy Skills Centre


EDF Energy commits £3 million to Bridgwater College facility to help secure skilled jobs for local people in Somerset

24 January 2011 - The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP visited EDF Energy’s site at Hinkley Point in Somerset today.

EDF Energy’s Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz and Managing Director of New Nuclear Build Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson took Mr Huhne on a tour of the existing Hinkley B power station and the site of the proposed new power plant.

Later, Mr Huhne opened the new Energy Skills Centre at Bridgwater College, a state of the art, energy efficient training hub for the South West. The centre will benefit from a £3 million investment from EDF Energy.

The investment will be made in phases in tandem with the development of the project.

This latest partnership brings EDF Energy’s commitment to skills development in Somerset to over £6 million.

The company expects that thousands of people will need to be provided with induction and basic safety training to be 'site ready' over the period of the construction project.

Speaking of the visit to Hinkley Point, which coincided with the final day of the government consultation on the National Policy Statements on Energy, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne said:

"A new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point has the potential to make an important contribution to the UK’s future low carbon, secure energy supplies.

"I’ve been impressed with the level of public engagement from the communities around all eight of the sites assessed by the Government as potentially suitable for new nuclear power. The consultation period ends today. Ministers will now consider all responses before putting a final list to Parliament for approval, after which companies like EDF Energy will be able to come forward with formal planning applications.

"It’s important that local communities benefit from energy projects. Making the most of local skills is going to be crucial, and I’m encouraged to see EDF Energy’s support for Bridgwater College’s new Energy Skills Centre."

EDF Energy Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz said:

"Our project will provide a boost to the Somerset economy by hundreds of millions of pounds. We expect around 5,000 people to work on the site at peak and to create 900 permanent jobs during operation.

"We want Somerset people to have the maximum opportunity to benefit from our plans. Our investment in Bridgwater College is designed to ensure people and businesses in the local community can develop the skills they need to secure jobs and contracts on our project.

"Somerset has a fantastic opportunity to lead the low carbon energy industry and be a national centre of excellence for technical skills.

"Initiatives like the Energy Skills Centre are key to ensuring that the local community and local business can make the most of these opportunities.

"Our aim is that this is the first step in the development of the facility as a national training centre for EDF Energy in the UK.

"I am also very pleased to have been able to show the Secretary of State our operating nuclear power station at Hinkley Point and the progress that we have been making towards new build."

Fiona McMillan of Bridgwater College said:

"We are delighted to be working in partnership with local and national partners to establish such impressive facilities to support the needs of the low carbon energy industries in the region and we are very grateful for their funding and sponsorship support.

"We anticipate that the Centre will make a huge contribution to the training of the local people and support for local businesses involved in the EDF Energy Nuclear New Build project, decommissioning activities and other low carbon energy projects."

The Energy Skills Centre is just the latest of a number of initiatives EDF Energy plans to fund as the project develops, to increase skills levels in the Somerset area.

EDF Energy plans to invest a further £1.5 million to establish a construction skills training centre at Bridgwater College, in partnership with the college.

The construction skills training centre will provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for the training requirements of the new build project; enabling people to gain the skills required to secure jobs on the construction project.

Other projects include an investment of £1.6 million in West Somerset Community College to support training in specific skills that will help people into employment on Hinkley Point C and create an apprenticeship hub, should the new power station be built.

The new power station development, the plans for which have been the subject of an extensive and ongoing consultation, will inject £100 million per year into the local economy during construction and £40 million per year during operation.

Subject to consent and the right investment framework, EDF Energy plans to build two new power plants at Hinkley Point with its partner Centrica.

Notes to editors:

Energy Skills Centre

EDF Energy will be making its investment in the Energy Skills Centre in the following stages:

£0.5m on the implementation of site preparation works

£0.5m on first use of facilities by EDF

£2m on implementation of the project following IPC consent