hinkley point construction day

£3bn price rise for cost of building Hinkley Point nuclear power station

The cost of building the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point has increased by an estimated £2.9bn, according to the latest figures.

French energy giant EDF said the plant in Somerset will now cost between £21.5 billion and £22.5 billion. The company claim the cost increases reflect "challenging ground conditions" which made earthworks more expensive than anticipated.

Action plan targets have also been revised and extra costs are needed to implement the completed functional design, which has been adapted for a "first-of-a-kind application in the UK context", said EDF.

The company said that under the terms of the so-called Contract for Difference, the increased costs will have no impact on UK consumers or taxpayers.

A statement said: "The management of the project remains mobilised to begin generating power from Unit 1 at the end of 2025. To achieve this, operational action plans overseen by the project management are being put in place. These involve the EDF Group's engineering teams in Great Britain and France, buildings and ancillary works contractors, and suppliers of equipment and systems throughout the supply chain."

Stuart Crooks, managing director of the Hinkley project, said in a message to workers: "We are delivering on our milestones and although the risk of a delay has increased, the schedule is unchanged and we remain focused on delivering the first power in 2025. We remain conscious of our responsibility to shareholders and consumers. Getting this far has cost more money than we anticipated. Our earthworks are complete, but challenging ground conditions meant we overspent to finish them on time."

"Adapting the EPR design to UK conditions and regulations added costs which are now understood. For example, adding an extra layer of conventional instrumentation and control means we had to build larger spaces to house extra equipment, meaning new layouts and designs. Now that the detailed design implementation is more advanced and we have placed more of our contracts, we have a better appreciation of our future costs."

Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: "The new Hinkley nuclear plant looked like a bad idea when it was first proposed and it's got worse ever since. New offshore wind now costs less than half as much as Hinkley and it might get even cheaper by the time the much-delayed reactors crank into action. It's become overwhelmingly clear that a renewable energy system based on offshore wind and other renewables is the cheapest, fastest and most reliable way to cut carbon emissions. Ministers should heed the lesson from the Hinkley debacle and never make the same mistake again."

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: "The Government needs to swiftly learn the lessons from the Hinkley Point project, to ensure that the new nuclear power building programme, which is desperately needed in order to keep the lights on is able to proceed and be expanded. The Government's current laissez-faire policy of simply hoping that private companies will come forward to develop and build incredibly complicated crucial strategic infrastructure projects, is not fit for purpose."

"We have already witnessed private sector companies pulling out of proposed new nuclear power stations in Cumbria and Anglesey, and the Government's hand-wringing response is clearly inadequate."

"The challenges faced by EDF demonstrate why the Government must introduce a proactive industrial strategy which will allow the Government to work in partnership with the private sector to develop future infrastructure projects that are desperately needed if the UK is to meet the challenges of the future."

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