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Hinkley Point Nuclear Gets the Green Light

It was revealed this month that British PM Theresa May has given the green light for the proposed £18Bn Hinkley Point C Power Station to go ahead. Hinkley will be Britain's first new Nuclear Power Station in over a generation and looks set to provide a huge boost to an already buoyant UK construction industry.

Despite the Prime Minister being relatively new to her role, she certainly will have a huge say on the UK construction industry over the coming months. We await government approval for 3 major projects that are expected in the next 6 months. They are:

  • Hinkley Point C Power Station > APPROVED
  • High Speed 2 > AWAITING APPROVAL
  • Third Runway at Heathrow > AWAITING APPROVAL

Based on reports I've read, Hinkley Point always looked likely to be approved despite a recent setback where national security was questioned due to significant Chinese investment in the project.

The £18Bn project is estimated to create circa 25,000 construction jobs which is especially pleasing as many of these will be roles in Somerset and the South West, giving the local economy a huge boost.

The Hinkley Point C Development will be situated adjacent to the current Hinkley Point B Plant in Somerset. The site for the new development is said to cover 175 Hectares of land. By 2025 it is estimated that the plant will account for producing 7% of the UK's electricity and should be operational for at least 60 years. The new site will be powered by 2 EPR Reactors (1.6 GW each) and produce up to 4 times more electricity than the previous site.

The decision seems to have been greeted relatively positively with many of the opinion that nuclear power is an essential part of the UK's infrastructure if we are to keep up with our growing need for power. However some have criticised the move, stating that cheaper and greener alternatives should have been considered.

For those involved in construction, the decision should be positive news. This will be a project that will be take many years to construct and create circa 25,000 jobs with many of those being construction related.

High Speed 2 & Heathrow Runway Extension Latest

As for the other 2 major projects waiting for award in the UK, We'll have to wait at least a few more months to see what happens.

At present, the signs are that HS2 looks set to go ahead. After David Cameron's resignation and a change in leadership within the government we watched with baited breath to see if Theresa May would back the scheme. There have been no signs to suggest there is any change in the government's plans to go ahead with the £55Bn, 20 year scheme since her appointment.

New Transport secretary Chris Grayling has already backed the scheme since his appointment stating that he "has no plans to back away from the HS2 scheme".

I attended the HS2 roadshow in Leicester earlier this year and the HS2 team were confident of getting government approval by the end of this year.

The Heathrow expansion project looks a little more uncertain. There has been public opposition to all of these 3 major projects however, government opinion on Hinkley Point and HS2 has always been largely encouraging.

The opposite could potentially be said for the expansion to Heathrow. Several key members of the PM's new cabinet have publicly voiced concerns over expansions to Heathrow including Justine Greening (education Secretary) and Philip Hammond (Chancellor). Add to this, Theresa May's own constituency is nearby Maidenhead where opposition is thought to be strong.

The latest news from a leaked document seems to be that MP's may be given a free vote in the House of Commons on the issue sometime in the near future and as yet there is no way to say which way that vote might go.

Summary

Today's decision ensures that at least one of these 3 mega projects looks set to go ahead. With HS2 also looking likely, the UK construction market will should see a huge boost in the coming 12 months.

The commencing of these project will lead to fresh concerns about staffing such projects with skills shortages in the industry already being well documented. In particular Quantity Surveyors seemingly in short supply.

This will be just one of the tasks facing the construction companies involved in delivering these projects. However the UK continues to come up with exciting and new major projects for those construction professionals who enjoy working on large multi billion GBP schemes, proving that you do not need to move overseas to work on exciting projects. They're here on your doorstep in the UK.

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Stuart Hackett
Senior Recruitment Consultant – UK & Middle East

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