EDF Energy has confirmed it will start site preparation works at Hinkley Point C in the Spring and has also completed the sale of land at Wylfa to the Horizon nuclear consortium for a proposed new reactor.
The energy giant is expected to apply for full planning consent for the nuclear plant to the Infrastructure Planning Commission within days and is also expected to issue a new construction timetable before the end of the year.
Horizon, a consortium of RWE npower and E.On, plan to develop up to 3.3GW of new nuclear capacity at Wylfa, Anglesey and is expected to bring a new site online after 2020.
Chief executive Vincent de Rivaz told a Nuclear Development Forum meeting that a final investment decision will be made before the end of the year, after which time the energy giant will establish its construction timetable.
EDF Energy say the project will boost the local economy by £100 million per year during construction and £40m per year during operation.
A Kier, Bam Nuttall and URS joint venture has been awarded a £100m earthworks package at the site as well as the site preparation contract.
Mr de Rivaz said: “I will not give a firm and final completion date at this stage. At the moment of the FID I expect to be able to do so. Our development consent application will include an indicative timetable. This provides the basis for our planning assessments.
“It will be published soon when the DCO application is validated by the IPC. In due course, we will move from an indicative timetable to a firm and final construction timetable. In doing so I will take account of readiness and also timeliness.”
The Fukushima disaster has raised speculation around the viability of future UK nuclear projects with several countries including Germany already indicating they will move away from nuclear power as part of their future energy mix.
However the UK government has backed new nuclear and chief nuclear inspector Dr Mike Weightman’s final report on the implications of the Fukushima disaster revealed no reason to curtail new UK nuclear.
Mr de Rivaz added: “An adjusted timetable has never meant a suspended timetable. It needs to be said, very clearly, that there is good news: the project continues. It is on track. The next steps are clear: We will still begin site preparation in spring. We have applied for the Nuclear Site Licence, which deals with the site-specific issues.
“The ONR has a big role to play in this and we need to continue to be engaged with them and them with us, with appropriate resources. Soon the IPC will begin its assessment of our application. It will be a massive task - to assess the first new nuclear project in order to deliver authorisation in one year.”
EDF Energy is currently engaging with unions on a new deal for industrial relations covering health and safety, quality, work continuity, skills development and career paths.
See here for the full Vincent de Rivaz speech.