‘Huge’ opportunities from nuclear project

“HUGE” opportunities will be available for local businesses as plans for a Sizewell C nuclear power station take shape, according to the company behind the project.

More than 200 firms attended the first supply chain event in the region to be organised by EDF Energy, which aims to build four new EPR nuclear reactors in the UK by 2025, including Sizewell C.

The event, at the Ufford Park Hotel, near Woodbridge, was aimed at getting out the message that the firm is looking for a wide range of suppliers, from taxis and caterers to specialist engineers, as it gears up for a lengthy building programme for the Suffolk site which it hopes will start in 2015.

It expects the work to take six years before the plant becomes operational in 2021 and to cost more than 8billion euros (�6.64bn). The station should have an working life-span of about 60 years.

Groundwork on the project has already started, with preparations in hand for an initial public consultation and an Environmental Impact Assessment, which is due to start later this summer.

EDF will be setting up an office in Leiston to serve as a base for a local engagement officer and a procurement officer.

“We’ll be starting the preparation of the consultation documents this year for Sizewell,” said the firm’s head of procurement Alan Cumming.

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“We need to take sufficient time to ensure we diligently go about our consultation. We are moving into generating the reports and study documents.”

The company is paying the Suffolk and Norfolk chambers of commerce to compile a database of companies in the counties so that it can get an accurate picture of the skills and services available.

Mr Cumming added: “There’s a huge amount of opportunities for the companies in Norfolk and Suffolk.” The company would be measuring the amount of involvement of local companies through the database, and taking “an active involvement” in understanding how its main contractors were developing their supply chain.

“It’s about taking people out of work into work and building a sustainable future for the area,” he said. “For us, having local suppliers on board gives you a loyalty because a nuclear power station is a 24-7 plant. To be frank, the locals are the ones who are having this in their area and they need to benefit.”