After much deliberation the UK government has ended a long period of uncertainty to grant approval to the £18bn Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset following a "new agreement" with EDF.
The Government trumpeted the decision as a “new era of UK nuclear power” and with as many as 25,000 new jobs anticipated to be created, the first new nuclear power station to be built in a generation is likely to deliver a significant economic boost to the area.
It has long been argued the UK needs new nuclear generating capacity to replace its ageing fleet. Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: "Britain needs to upgrade its supplies of energy and we have always been clear that nuclear is an important part of ensuring our future low-carbon energy security."
French energy giant EDF and Chinese state nuclear firm CGN which is also investing in the project were both said to be "delighted" with the decision. EDF commented that during the 10 year period of construction, 25,000 new “employment opportunities” will be created with 5,600 people working at the site at the height of its construction. The company stressed that wherever possible it will employ local people and utilise local companies to build and operate the plant.
Duncan McGinty, leader of Sedgemoor district council, said many of the new jobs would be well-paid and rewarding. “Hinkley Point C will be the UK’s largest engineering and construction project in modern times. This is a great opportunity,” he said.
As part of the Hinkley arrangement, Chinese state nuclear firm CGN will also invest in the development of a second EDF project at Sizewell C in Suffolk and will commence developing its own reactor design at Bradwell in Essex with EDF’s support. The project represents the first foothold for Chinese nuclear technology in a major Western economy.