£18billion Hinkley deal will ‘electrify’ Somerset economy
- Credit: Archant
FRESH progress on a proposed third nuclear power station at Somerset’s Hinkley Point has been heralded as a move which ‘will electrify our local economy for decades’.
Prospects of a third reactor at the plant, near to Bridgwater, had appeared to waver in recent months, with uncertainty over funding and an EU legal challenge threatening to de-rail the project before it was fully under way.
However, EDF Energy and its Chinese parter China General Nuclear Corporation this week signed a strategic investment agreement, described by experts as demonstrating ‘a clear intent from both parties to deliver the first new nuclear power station in the UK for a generation’.
With the £18billion project expected to lead to enormous financial benefits to firms all across the region, the move has been welcomed by leaders within both public and private sectors.
Somerset County Council predicts it will ‘provide 25,000 jobs during construction and 900 jobs in its planned 60-year operating life’ and says the project will prove an ‘immeasurable benefit’ to the area.
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Somerset Chamber of Commerce was pleased too, describing the latest development as ‘another very positive step’.
And further north, and the news was greeted with similar optimism.
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Weston College, which has already created a number of programmes aimed at helping businesses to maximise the potential benefits of Hinkley Point C, says the whole region could profit from the development.
Liz Redwood, executive director for apprenticeships and commercial strategy at the college’s Business Enterprise Centre, said: “This represents a massive economic boost to the South West.
“With a pledge that 34 per cent of the associated employment will be within a 90-minute commute, and an estimated 25,000 employment opportunities during the lifetime of the build, there is significant potential for Weston College to play its part in the regional regeneration.
“Weston College already has strong links with the Hinkley Point Training Agency and the Hinkley Point C Jobs Service, to help match suitable candidates to vacancies as they arise.
“We look forward to strengthening those links and ensuring that we do everything we can to help the businesses we work with get themselves Hinkley-ready.”
Wells MP James Heappey, who sits on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, was another who welcomed news that the new Hinkley reactor will be operational by 2025.
He said: “This is fantastic news for Somerset: Hundreds of millions of pounds in investment, tens of thousands of jobs and supply chain opportunities across Somerset and beyond.
“This will electrify our local economy for decades; requiring the development of new skills and positioning us as the centre of the UK’s civil nuclear industry.
“The impact on our county will be tremendous.”