More than 10 years since the then government proposed nuclear as part of the UK’s future energy mix, and more than three years since a new plant at Hinkley Point C was approved, the much-needed investment to facilitate this project has finally been signed off by the French energy giant.
Disappointingly, however, the UK government had other ideas, postponing its decision until the autumn.
Early yesterday evening, the construction industry expressed a long-anticipated sigh of relief at the news that work could finally begin on the construction of the UK’s first nuclear plant in 20 years, which is expected to provide 7 per cent of the UK’s total electricity requirement.
But the tables had turned by bedtime when the government announced its surprising decision.
Risk to prosperity
CECA has continually called for a long-term energy strategy to ensure the continuation of a safe and secure energy supply to complement economic growth, and the government’s decision to not make an immediate commitment to the project puts this goal in jeopardy.
An EDF and government go-ahead would provide a much-needed boost to the industry’s confidence following the publication of our most recent quarterly Workload Trends Survey, which found that growth in the sector had ground to a halt ahead of the EU referendum.
“While many have forecast doom for the project, we see it as an opportunity to prove to the world the strength of our contractors”
We know that infrastructure investment is a driver of economic growth and were therefore surprised when Theresa May’s government did not immediately commit to Hinkley Point C following EDF’s decision.
Work at Hinkley Point has the potential to provide vital employment and long-term career opportunities for thousands of skilled workers.
Just as the construction of the 2012 Olympics helped showcase the best that our industry can deliver, so too can Hinkley Point.
While many have forecast doom for the project, we see it as an opportunity to prove to the world the strength of our contractors, delivering outstanding results on a technically challenging project, and hopefully inspiring a new generation to join an industry that is powering the future of the UK economy.
Marie-Claude Hemming is head of external affairs at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association