Opportunities for companies to grow in the South West as a result of the massive investment at Hinkley Point C is seeing a sharp increase in firms investing in the region.
Information from the Hinkley Supply Chain Programme suggests that more than 20 companies have set up in the region since 2017. These companies expect their staff numbers to grow from 120 to more than 500 as a result of opportunities presented by the new nuclear power station under construction in Somerset.
These companies provide specialist engineering and technical support for the £18bn construction project – the largest of its type in Europe. Many of them are actively hiring more staff as they seek to take advantage of a live pipeline of opportunities worth more than £200m.
The news comes just days after construction work at Hinkley Point C reached its biggest key milestone on schedule, with the completion of its first reactor – known as J-zero.
“Decisions that companies are taking to invest in the South West are a direct result of the opportunities that Hinkley Point C and the nuclear industry presents,” said Nuclear South West Chairman, Matt Burley.
“Many of these companies are internationally regarded and all of them employ highly skilled people. Their presence in the region will bring significant economic benefits and confirms what we already know: that the South West is a fantastic place to set up and do business.”
Investing in the South West
One international company to invest in the region is mechanical and electrical services specialist EnerMech, who have set up in Portishead and plan to create up to 100 jobs in the region and in South Wales over the next three years.
EnerMech will work with the project delivery team on site to scale up their capability for safe lifting operations, using 24 tower cranes in addition to the 26 already on site. The company will also set up training programmes with the National College for Nuclear for staff at Hinkley Point C.
Duncan Frame, General Manager of the South West team at EnerMech, is spearheading the company’s expansion.
He said: “This is an extremely exciting part of the journey and a key milestone in our expansion.
“This is the first nuclear new-build in 25 years and for us it’s a further step into cleaner energy so it’s a fantastic opportunity to diversify and build a presence in the South West.”
He added: “The scale of opportunities is huge, and Hinkley Point C will only get busier and busier and there’s a need for companies who want to work on the project to put the best possible offer forward.
“We are looking forward to starting work at Hinkley Point C and developing and growing our South West team on the back of this work.”
International company Boccard has also invested in the region, opening its Nuclear Centre of Excellence in Bristol and progressing with plans to hire around 30 employees in project management and technical roles.
The company is supporting EDF directly and a primary (tier 1) contractor on the project with design, manufacture and fitting piping systems on site at Hinkley Point C. They expect to begin its next phase of work in the coming weeks.
Douglas McQueen, Boccard UK Managing Director, said: “We’re actively involved in Hinkley Point C and felt the time was right to invest in a permanent presence in the region and seek local talent to support our work here.
“We’re looking to employ people in a range of roles – contract and procurement managers as well as trade employees – as we scale up to support the project.
“Working here and setting up in the region has been a great experience and we’ve had some fantastic support. We will bring colleagues from across to EU to the south west to support our work here.”
Hinkley Point C is expected to generate 25,000 job opportunities over the next 20 years and is a significant factor in nuclear-related opportunities worth around £50bn to the sector over that period.