Hinkley Point nuclear business ‘benefit’ for Wales

Hinkley C construction siteImage copyrightEDF

Businesses in Wales can benefit from the building of a nuclear power plant in Somerset, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has said.

But there are concerns it could make the shortage of skilled workers for construction projects worse.

Hinkley Point C will cost £18bn, with a third of it being paid by China, and will create 25,000 jobs.

Some small builders are worried it will drive up costs as workers are attracted by the higher wages offered at Hinkley.

The Federation of Master Builders, which represents small contractors, is also worried many of its members will not even tender for business there because of how long it takes to get paid for these jobs.

GraphicImage copyrightHayes Davidson/EDF/BBC

Helen Kane, chairwoman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) board in Wales, said small firms were in a position to benefit.

“We’re entering one of the biggest construction phases in the UK since the war and, relatively speaking, Hinkley Point is on our doorstep.

“The problem with the skills gap in the UK is that it’s the biggest for 20 or 30 years; 70% [of companies] are reporting a shortage of skilled staff.

“We have a great selection of universities and colleges in Wales who are working towards that to ensure that not just Hinkley but all our schemes – Wylfa, the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and biomass plants in west Wales – all come on stream, but we need to work together to do that.”

Hinkley Point C

Nuclear power station, Somerset

£18bn Building Cost

  • 25,000 jobs
  • 60 year lifespan
  • 7% of UK’s generation needs
  • £92 per MWh electricity price agreed with UK Government

Builder Kevin Ireland of Delta Property, based in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, is reluctant to get involved in Hinkley.

He said smaller businesses would be at the lower end of the supply chain and “at the mercy” of larger contractors.

“Unless you’re prepared to put yourself somewhere in the middle or low end of that supply chain, I don’t think there really are advantages,” he added.

“There are more likely to be disadvantages – we’ve got a real skills shortage in the construction industry. This will only make things worse as individual guys leave to chase the money.”

Rachel Lister
Image captionRachel Lister has been commuting weekly to Somerset

Rachel Lister has worked at Hinkley for nearly three years, overseeing transport compliance.

She spends weekends at home in Cardiff and lives and works in Somerset during the week.

“It’s about having the opportunity to further my career,” she said.

“I’ve got a chance to work with some experienced people on a huge construction project.”

EDF Energy’s chief executive Vincent de Rivaz, said the project would boost “industrial stamina” in the UK.

“Hinkley Point C will be at the forefront of the revitalisation of the UK’s industrial and skills base, and we have worked hard to build a robust supply chain to support new nuclear in the UK,” he added.

Source: BBC News

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