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Hinkley Point C | A brief history

Hinkley Point C

New Civil Engineer has been watching Hinkley Point C from the start. As EDF finally makes a decision on finance for the plant we’ve used our archives to plot the project’s troubled development.

The Hinkley Point Saga

September 2008 

EDF wants to construct and operate two reactors each at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk, both sites of existing British Energy reactors, and has said that under its plans the first new reactor could be operational by the end of 2017.

“New nuclear is becoming a reality,” said Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“We’ve seen the corporate details – but what did the Government get in return for selling its 35% stake?” asked then Shadow Business Secretary Alan Duncan.

June 2009 

French energy giant EDF insisted that construction of its flagship Flamanville 3 nuclear reactor in France was “on time and on budget” amid claims that the project was running late and that costs were increasing.

The Flamanville plant on the north coast of France is EDF’s first attempt at building its European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) and the project is being closely monitored as the firm plans to build four identical plants in the UK.

Although EDF is still waiting on positive planning and approval decisions, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director of nuclear new build, confirmed that he still hoped to start building the new UK fleet in 2012 to 2013 and have it operational by the end of 2017.

He told New Civil Engineer that EDF is planning for work to start on the first of four new reactors in 2012 − sited most probably at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Eighteen months later, work on a second reactor at Hinkley Point would then commence before focus shifts to Sizewell where another pair of reactors will be started 18 and 36 months later.

“Our objective is to build four of a kind to give us an ability to learn through the operational phase.”

“A rollout that has more or less 18 month gaps between each will enable us to roll contracts and people from one site to another in an orderly fashion.”

November 2009

The Government’s plans to increase the country’s reliance on nuclear power have been thrown into doubt after after experts raised a raft of safety concerns about two proposed reactors.

In reports on the assessment of the French EPR and US AP1000 reactor designs, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said there was a much more “detailed work” to do before they could be approved for use.

The HSE said of both units: “We have identified a significant number of issues with the safety features of …that would first have to be progressed.”

February 2010

Hinkley Point C, EDF

Hinkley cgi image 3:2

Source: EDF Energy

Britain’s new nuclear programme is poised to take a major step forward next week with tenders due in for the earthworks contract for the first new plant planned at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Five contractors are  in the running for the £30M deal. They include a Balfour Beatty/Vinci joint venture, a Bam Nuttall/Kier/URS joint venture, a Laing O’Rourke/Ferrovial joint venture. Carillion and Sir Robert McAlpine are also bidding independently.

April 2010

EDF has ordered contractors bidding for the UK’s first contract at new nuclear site Hinkley Point, Somerset to re-price the earthworks following significant changes to the contract’s scope.

Tenders were originally received for the earthworks contract on 5 March. NCE understands that client EDF has asked bidders to re-evaluate costs.

June 2010

Energy giant EDF said this week that the new coalition government’s plan to axe the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) would not hamper its new nuclear programme.

July 2010

EDF has this week gone against local opinion and ruled out building a bypass around the town of Bridgwater in Somerset to support the construction of a new nuclear reactor at nearby Hinkley Point.

It is proposing instead a much shorter bypass of the nearby village of Cannington.

Sedgemoor District Council, West Somerset Council and Somerset County Council have invited bids for professional and technical support contracts during the planning process for Hinkley Point’s new nuclear power stations.

Public consultation about EDF’s detailed plans to build two nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point in Somerset is now underway. 

September 2010

Firms bidding to build the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point will need help to tackle the complexity of the project and deliver the quality of workmanship required, client NNB warned this week.

March 2011

EDF is set to award a significant earthworks contract for new nuclear site Hinkley Point to the URS Scott Wilson/Bam Nuttall/Kier JV, NCE understands.

The contract has been the subject of much speculation since a year ago. Tenders were originally received for the earthworks contract – worth £203M – on 5 March 2010 but the client then asked bidders to re-evaluate costs for the Somerset site.

March 2011 – Fukushima


Fukushima:Confidence in Tokyo Electric has been damaged


Japanese engineers were battling to avoid a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant as NCE went to press.

In response, Germany and Switzerland have put the brakes on their nuclear power programmes.

As NCE went to press on Tuesday the European Commission was holding a meeting to assess the Japanese situation and the European Union’s state of preparedness in case of similar incidents.

Investment bank Société Général analysts agreed that Japan’s nuclear disaster could “lead to a setback for the world’s nuclear renaissance”.

This could see gas become the “fuel of no choice”, they cautioned.

The UK nuclear new build programme will be delayed by a year in the aftermath of the Japan Fukushima disaster, according to ICE vice president Richard Coackley.

April 2011

EDF’s attempts to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point have run into trouble, with two local councils objecting to its proposals.

Stage two of its public consultation for the plant ended last week with Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council still objecting to parts of the proposal.

Somerset said EDF’s traffic management plans for the construction phase of the project still “lack depth” and called on the energy giant carry out a more detailed study.

July 2011

Work on Hinkley Point C site

Work on Hinkley Point C site

Source: EDF Energy

Work on Hinkley Point C site

EDF has announced has been given the go ahead for preparatory work by West Somerset District Council for its proposed nuclear power plant Hinkley Point C.

September 2011

EDF has played down the impact of a judicial review launched by cellophane firm Innovia over its use of land to construct Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset.

October 2011

Work to meet recommendations from chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman’s report into Japan’s Fukushima disaster could stop new nuclear schemes coming online in time for 2018, industry experts warned this week.

November 2011

EDF will not be awarding the main civils contract for the new nuclear power station at Hinckley Point C in Somerset until early 2013, NCE has learned.

November 2011 – Final investment decision delayed

EDF has said it will not give a date on when electricity will be generating from new nuclear power station Hinkley Point C until after the firm has made its final investment decision at the end of next year.

December 2011

Engineering giant Rolls Royce has won a €250M (£210M) contract from nuclear reactor vendor Areva to supply safety instrumentation and control technology to France’s nuclear reactor fleet.

February 2012

Hinkley new build

Hinkley new build

Artist impressiono of the Hinkley Point new build plant.

A row between Sedgemoor District Council and energy firm EdF has broken out today over £2.3M funding to scrutinise plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point.


June 2012

French contractor Bouygues’ experience in constructing the Flamanville nuclear power plant in France helped win the Hinkley Point C contract, EDF told NCE yesterday.

July 2012

The revelation that Olkiluoto nuclear power station in Finland is facing new delays has raised concerns this week that the same problems could disrupt the timetable for delivering the new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

November 2012

Energy firm EDF has been granted a nuclear licence from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) yesterday for its proposed plant at Hinkley Point C.

November 2012 – First pour delayed to 2015

Construction of EDF’s new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset has slipped by a full two years, NCE has learned this week.

Contractor 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.

December 2012 – Final investment decision delayed until 2013

EDF has deferred making its final investment decision on its proposed new power station at Hinkley Point C until early 2013, the firm confirmed today.

February 2013 

Pressure on the government to agree a fixed electricity price for new nuclear power intensified this week after energy firm Centrica pulled out of the project to build a new nuclear power station plant at Hinkley Point.

February 2013 – Government blamed for delays

David Cameron meets young apprentices at Hinkley with CEO Vincent de Rivaz

David Cameron meets young apprentices at Hinkley with CEO Vincent de Rivaz

David Cameron meets young apprentices at Hinkley with CEO Vincent de Rivaz

Government inertia is stalling plans to sign a long term agreement for electricity price which will enable construction of new nuclear power station Hinkley Point C to go ahead.

A source close to the negotiations said energy firm EDF’s failure to agree a long term fixed price for electricity with the government was down to the lengthy decision making process and not to a major difference over the level of subsidy.

March 2013

Nuclear power plant developer EDF’s engineers are convinced that there will be no repeat of the delays and cost overruns that have plagued its other European new nuclear projects.

April 2013

EDF is unlikely to decide whether to start building the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset for at least another three months, industry insiders told NCE this week.

EDF had hoped to reach commercial close with its investors at the end of last month (NCE 7 March). But this depended on the firm agreeing a “strike price” - a fixed long term electricity price - with the government.

October 2013

Uncertainty surrounded taxpayer liability for construction of the £16bn Hinkley Point C nuclear plant this week after the government agreed an energy price guarantee deal with French energy giant EDF.

Meanwhile, contractors lined up to work on EDF’s new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset have played down the significance of this week’s deal with the government over the strike price and the announcement that “key terms” have been agreed.

June 2014

Significant Chinese investment in the Hinkley Point new nuclear plant moved a step closer to reality last night.

The UK and China governments signed an agreement that allows companies from the Far East country to own and operate a nuclear power station here.

September 2014

The proposed new-build nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset has been recommended for approval by the European Commission.

February 2015

EDF could still be “months” away from a decision to press ahead with the £16bn construction of Hinkley Point C, it has emerged.

The firm said yesterday that a final investment decision on the Somerset new nuclear scheme would be possible “in the next few months”.

April 2015

Hinkley C

Parts for the on site concrete batching plant hinkley point c feb 15

Source: EDF Energy

EDF Energy has said it will not begin the next phase of works on the £16bn Hinkley Point C new nuclear project until a final investment decision has been made.

July 2015

EDF has awarded a further £1.3bn of work on the Hinkley Point C new nuclear project.

The energy giant announced preferred bidders for a range of sub contracts including electrical, mechanical and transmission deals.

September 2015 – Investment decisions “as soon as possible”

Energy giant EDF has failed to clear up uncertainty about its long-awaited Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, saying only that it would make a final investment decision “as soon as possible”.

The firm appeared to be moving towards a start date for the Somerset mega scheme when it awarded £1.3bn of contracts in July.

October 2015

David Cameron has hailed the “historic deal” which has enabled the £16bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to go ahead.

The prime minister said the agreement signed by energy firm EDF and China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) today signals the green light for the Somerset mega-scheme.

January 2016 – Extreme disappointment

Civils firms have described the wait for the decision to build Hinkley Point C nuclear plant as “extremely disappointing”.

Contractors were originally expecting a final investment decision from project promoter EDF on the Somerset scheme by the end of 2014.

February 2016

A key figure in the development of the long-awaited Hinkley Point C nuclear power project has left the scheme, with a final decision to progress with it still awaited.

Project promoter EDF Energy said Hinkley Point C project director Chris Bakken was returning to the US to pursue new opportunities.

March 2016 – A May decision

Project promoter EDF Energy is “devoted” to making a decision on the long-awaited Hinkley Point C new nuclear project, a statement from the French and UK governments has insisted.

But EDF chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal resigned amid uncertainty over the long-awaited Hinkley Point C project.

Meanwhile, EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz has told MPs it was a “very reasonable assumption” that the long-awaited investment decision will be taken on Hinkley Point C in May.

March 2016 – A “slow moving car crash”

Uncertainty and delays surrounding EDF’s Hinkley Point C project is like ‘being in a slow moving car crash’, according to the former boss of energy rival RWE Npower.

April 2016

The long-awaited final investment decision on Hinkley Point C now looks at least two months away – with some reports suggesting it could come as late as September.

May 2016

EDF Energy chief executive officer Vincent de Rivaz returned to the Energy and Climate Change Committee on Tuesday (24 May) to explain why there is still no decision on investment for the project.

“At the time of the last hearing in March there was an expectation that we would have taken the final investment decision on Hinkley Point C by now,” said de Rivaz.

EDF cannot proceed with construction until the overall financial plan to secure the company’s investment is in place, he explained.

July 2016

The long-awaited decision on whether or not to go ahead with the construction of two EPR reactors has been put on the agenda for EDF’s board of directors meeting on 28 July.

The decision will be made earlier than the previous indications of September. It follows the conclusion of negotiations between EDF and unions on the issue.









  • Hinkley Point C

    Hinkley Point C | A brief history


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