The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne MP, visited EDF Energy’s site at Hinkley Point near Burnham-On-Sea on Monday (January 24th).
Mr Huhne was taken on a tour of the existing Hinkley B power station and the site of the proposed new power plant by EDF Energy Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz and Managing Director of New Nuclear Builds Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson.
Mr Huhne also opened a new Energy Skills Centre at Bridgwater College, which is a high-tech training hub that will benefit from £3m of EDF investment.
The company expects that thousands of people will need to be provided with induction and basic safety training at the centre during the period of construction.
Mr Huhne said after his visit: “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. 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.”
Consultation on the proposals for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point ended on Monday and ministers are now considering all the 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.
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.”
However, Monday’s visit was also criticised by campaign groups Kick Nuclear and Stop Hinkley.
Kick Nuclear spokeswoman Nancy Birch said: “It’s ironic that Huhne should be singing the praises of the nuclear industry at Hinkley Point just days after an independent report revealed that soil around the power station is heavily contaminated with cancer-causing enriched uranium. The government’s indifference to the dangers of nuclear power and its waste products is astonishing.”
And Stop Hinkley spokesman Crispin Aubrey added: “Instead of promoting the Hinkley C proposal and cosying up to EDF, Chris Huhne should be sticking to official Liberal Democrat policy. Until the coalition turned it upside down, this was opposed to a new generation of nuclear power plants in Britain and committed to our electricity supply coming 100% from renewable sources in 2050. Huhne says he won’t subsidise nuclear power, but the truth is he intends to do it by the back door. No nuclear plant has been built in the UK or France without some form of state support.”
Pictured top (left to right) Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, EDF Energy’s Managing Director of New Nuclear Builds, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne MP, and EDF Energy’s Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz looking at plans for the new power station; (centre) with Bridgwater College students Naomi Irish and James Dickson at the new energy campus; and (above) how the proposed new power station may look