All you need to know about Hinkley Point C

The largest building site in Europe

Nuclear plant in Hickley

“The Hinckley project marks a real game change for the local area, transforming a low wage, low skill economy into a higher wage, upskilled one and setting a growth and education agenda which will benefit future generations” – David Lowin, an RTPI accredited Planning Consultant.

At a size equivalent to 380 full size football pitches, the construction of Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station (HPC) is the largest building site in Europe. Situated in Somerset, and currently employing around 6000 construction industry workers, it is estimated that a total of 25,000 jobs will be created during the development phase of HPC. The project itself is colossal. As well as building the power station itself, a village bypass, new housing for workers, park and ride facilities and marine development are amongst the many supporting construction features that have ensured an economic boost to the county of Somerset.

Hinkley nuclear plant

Local Importance

Apprenticeships are in place to ensure residents of the county are given the opportunity to work during this development phase. Described as ‘the biggest economic boost for a generation’[1], these apprenticeship schemes have been made available to locals and will provide the relevant training and education needed to work at the site. Much has been done to prioritise local companies in consideration of the HPC supply chain. There have been considerable infrastructure improvements in the area, positive changes to the local road network, and a provision of infrastructure access to a new business park – benefits that will uphold the legacy of the HPC development in the county of Somerset.

The Legacy

A project of this size has the “power” not only to provide electricity for the next 60 years, but also have an enormously positive impact on the local community and its surrounding areas, the cumulative effects of which will far out live the power station. Already an RTPI award winner for Legacy[2], the HPC development is expected to boost the local economy in excess of a 100 million pounds. They have built colleges and learning centres for the next generation of nuclear engineers have had colleges built, including, The National College for Nuclear, Somerset Energy Innovation Centre and Bridgewater Gateway. These buildings have been set up with the explicit intention to train, and teach future generations working at this site. Other benefits to the surrounding areas include the repurposing of accommodation, which will be used to house the construction workforce as well as local residents, once the development is complete.

Hinkley Point C

Working Together

HPC is the first nuclear power station to be built in the UK this century, and the three councils across Somerset have worked tirelessly together to ensure the development proceeded as planned. The three planning teams from West Somerset Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council joined forces through the pre-application phases, and kept working supportively together right through to the implementation phase of the project. It has not been a simple undertaking. The development consent order, under the regulations of NSIP, had over 200 conditions that needed to be met. In order to help, Local Planning Authorities (LPA) oversaw the many consequential planning applications that followed.

Planning on a Huge Scale

A project of this size, categorised as NSIP, which means National Strategic Infrastructure Project, is an exciting opportunity for planners. For many, working on Hinkley Point C may be the largest project of their career. Complex developments such as HPC require planning on a huge scale, and there will always be multiple factors that need to be taken into consideration. Regular legislation for planning alongside marine management will forever make up this evolving and complex puzzle. A jigsaw that has created many lucrative employment positions for the countries leading planners to put together. 

-By Sohan Modi-


Images from EDF Energy

[1] https://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk

[2] https://www.rtpi.org.uk

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