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Sizewell C to inject millions locally

PUBLISHED: 13:09 27 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:56 06 July 2010

LOCAL firms could share in a huge multi-billion pound cash bonanza from the building of Sizewell C, nuclear industry experts say.

The Nuclear Industry Association (NDA) says the eastern region is set to enjoy a "massive" economic boost from building and running the twin reactors which EDF Energy hopes to start building at the site by 2012.

LOCAL firms could share in a huge multi-billion pound cash bonanza from the building of Sizewell C, nuclear industry experts say.

The Nuclear Industry Association (NDA) says the eastern region is set to enjoy a “massive” economic boost from building and running the twin reactors which EDF Energy hopes to start building at the site by 2012.

Its chief executive, Keith Parker, said: “Companies, if they want to be involved, need to start making their preparations now. The message is 'get a move on' basically.”

The NDA has organised a major nuclear supply chain opportunity in Newmarket for East of England firms in conjunction with the East of England Development Agency which takes place tomorrow.

The event will showcase the “huge” opportunities the plant would bring and explain how they can get involved.

At the height of construction work, 5,000 jobs will be created in Suffolk if, as expected, the French-owned company gets the green light to build the two new Areva EPR reactors. The estimated cost of a single reactor is about £3billion, although there will be economies of scale in building two. In the longer term, several hundred jobs will be created to run the plant, which has an estimated lifespan of 60 years.

Plans are expected to be submitted in 2010 and if these are approved as the industry hopes, building work could start in 2012, with the plant completed and operational by the end of 2017. At the same time, EDF hopes to build twin reactors at Hinckley Point in Somerset.

NDA chief executive Keith Parker said: “There will be massive opportunities for companies in the region to be involved. Once the station is built then it would operate for something like 60 years so it offers long term employment for people in Sizewell/Suffolk.”

The 1600 megawatt reactors, 3,200 megawatts in total, will outstrip the output of about 1200 megawatt Sizewell B by a large margin.

“They have not submitted an application yet. What we are waiting for is a national policy statement from the Government probably in the next few weeks. That will set the framework for the planning process. We expect applications to be made probably in the course of next year. If everything goes to plan it should be within a couple of years before serious work on site begins,” he said.

“Building a new fleet of reactors in the UK will generate billions of pounds worth of business and potentially create thousands of jobs. We want to see British companies getting the lion's share.”

The SC@nuclear event, which includes representatives from EDF and reactor designers Areva, hopes to enthuse and inform the region's firms about how they can get involved, and what training, staffing and quality standards they would need to achieve.

Current plans could see up to 10 new generation nuclear plants built across the UK.

“They can talk to companies that are already in the nuclear sector and will potentially be the main contractors for these projects, and start the dialogue which we hope will develop into something quite fruitful for the companies in your region,” said Mr Parker.

“It's creating long term economic benefits for the region. There will be the direct work at the site itself and the indirect impact in terms of services within the community and the benefits for local retailers.

“Because of the sort of jobs people have at nuclear power stations are highly skilled and pretty well paid, so the multiplier effect of people spending in the local communities is quite significant.”

Although it would not be an exact parallel of the Sizewell B experience, around 1,000 of the 2,000 firms which were involved in that project were local, he said.

“We want local companies to find out about what's available, ask whether they themselves would have the capability or would want to invest in new facilities or staff or training to ensure they are competitive and capable of working in this sector,” he said.

“We are very confident that these projects will go ahead.”

Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director nuclear new build at EDF Energy, said the company was expecting to tender about 150 contracts worth many billions of pounds.

“Events like these are essential to begin forging working relationships that will last many years and we intend to maximise the opportunities for British companies,” he said.

The workshop is being targeted at a range of companies, including manufacturers, construction and civil engineering companies, electrical engineering firms and service providers, including catering.

“It's like a large conventional infrastructure project with a nuclear dimension,” said Mr Parker.

“We represent companies in the UK nuclear industry, but we recognise that the scale of the increase in nuclear capacity that we are looking forward to is going to require probably a larger supply chain than we currently have. We want to involve companies already in the supply chain but also increase the size and scope of the supply chain. We need to attract companies which are not in the nuclear sector or companies that have been in the past and want to return to it.

“The important thing to remember is the construction may take five years or so and at its peak there may be 5,000 jobs created.”

Energy Minster Lord Hunt is urging companies in the eastern region to get involved.

“These supply chain events are important because it will help British business be first off the blocks in the global supply chain race. They have the potential to secure billions of pounds for the wider UK economy,” he said.

Deborah Cadman, chief executive of the East of England Development Agency said the event represented a “tremendous opportunity” for the region's firms.

“This region already has a strong base in advanced manufacturing and engineering which can act as a platform for more and more businesses to link to.”

Places at the event are strictly limited to 200 delegates on the day - with only two people from individual companies allowed.

Registration forms can be found online at www.nuclearsupplychain.com or by emailing Stephanie McKenna, stephanie.mckenna@niauk.org, at the NIA.

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