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EDF pledges support for new nuclear

EDF Energy has confirmed it will continue with plans for four new nuclear reactors, including procurement of contractors to build
the facilities.

Chief executive Vincent de Rivaz made the statement after the government’s chief nuclear inspector found there was no reason to curtail the operation of UK nuclear facilities based on the direct causes of the Fukushima disaster.

Dr Mike Weightman’s interim report outlined 11 main conclusions, and delivered 26 recommendations based on the initial conclusions from the Japanese plant that suffered explosions in the aftermath of a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Mr de Rivaz said: “We continue with work on the design assessment of reactors, the local consents and site preparation processes, preparing our application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission, recruiting skilled people and suppliers and working to establish the policy framework for investment.”

He added that the firm spent on average £300m each year ensuring its plants were at the forefront of safety technology.

EDF Energy and Centrica plan to build four EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C and had hoped to bring Hinkley Point C online by 2018.

Major contracts have yet to be awarded at the site, including the main civils works worth more than £1.6bn. In the spring, Kier and BAM Nuttall were revealed as preferred bidders for a £100m earthworks contract (CN news, 11 March 2011).

Energy secretary Chris Huhne said last week: “The chief nuclear inspector has made clear the differences between Japan and the UK. We do not use the same reactor types and do not plan to in future. We also do not expect to experience the extreme natural events seen in Japan.”

Burges Salmon environment and energy barrister William Wilson said the report would provide a measure of reassurance to the government and energy firms about the implications for nuclear power in the UK.

“There is no reason to rule it out providing they take the recommendations seriously,” he said. “It is an important first step and the government will take some measure of reassurance from the report.”

An energy representative at one contractor looking to win nuclear work added that “the key thing for the UK economy and the supply chain is that momentum isn’t lost” following the publication of the interim report.

But EDF Energy’s plans at Hinkley Point C could still be complicated by three Somerset councils which have refused to accept a proposed £100m investment in the region, including a £20m community fund.

Somerset County, Sedgemoor District and West Somerset councils have yet to award planning permission for preliminary works on the site.

 

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