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Hinkley civils team to let contracts worth £600m

The preferred bidders for the £2bn civils package for Hinkley Point C will let up to eight contracts worth £600m, once they have signed their contract.

Laing O’Rourke head of new nuclear Norman Haste told CN’s sister title NCE that once a final investment decision has been taken on the plant by EDF and Centrica, and a contract is signed for the main civils, it will let six to eight subcontracts worth £600m.

Construction of EDF Energy’s new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset has also slipped by a full two years according to the main civils contractors Laing O’Rourke.

NCE has learned that Laing O’Rourke is working on a timescale that would have the first concrete pour on the nuclear island take place in mid-2015, a full two years later than originally planned, according to Mr Haste.

The first pour is seen as a key milestone in the construction of the plant and Mr Haste’s admission is the first firm indicator of the length of delay to the project.

CN revealed last month that earthworks at Hinkley Point C were in danger of being delayed until the middle of 2013 and EDF and its partner Centrica have yet to make a final investment decision on the project.

Laing O’Rourke was named preferred bidder for the £2bn main civils works in joint venture with French construction giant Bouygues in June .

Mr Haste told NCE the joint venture has since been working in an advisory capacity to ensure the design can be “delivered to time and quality”.

“We are working with EDF and looking towards starting on site at the end of 2013,” he said.

Bouygues/Laing O’Rourke’s work follows on from the £100m earthworks contract which was awarded to a Bam Nuttall/Kier joint venture.

Mr Haste said work would ramp up in 2014 as earthworks were completed, “leading to a first nuclear island pour in mid-2015”.

From 2014 there will be a “continual process” of construction until both reactors are complete, he said.

Mr Haste said he understood the difficulties facing EDF [in making its investment decision] as it seeks various levels of approval for its project and the reason why it was not yet in a position to formally award the £2bn civils contract.

“I should stress we don’t have a contract,” he said. “This is a big ask for any private sector firm in terms of investment,” he added.

But he did acknowledge that not having a contract was a risk for Laing O’Rourke. “It is a risk but we have made a long term commitment to nuclear,” he said.

Once the contract is signed Mr Haste said the JV will be looking to let six to eight subcontracts worth a combined £600m.

Increased engagement with second and third tier contractors will be sought on a “partnership basis”, Haste added.

Haste said the firm will be “looking to embrace” the latest in 3D and 4D building information modelling techniques to help ensure the project does not suffer delays that have plagued the nuclear new build sites at Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland.

Laing O’Rourke/Bouygues project director Martin Westbury told CN in June that BIM had been crucial to the joint venture winning the contract.

Bouygues/Laing O’Rourke will employ up to 3,000 staff at the peak of construction, while a total construction work force of almost 6,000 will be on the site.

Mr Haste said Laing O’Rourke’s policy of using a directly employed labour force was a “key component” of the JV winning the job.

“It’s not a job that lends [itself] to project management,” he said. “The rigour of project control becomes very important.”

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