Sizewell B could have its working life extended

The reactor dome of Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station

The reactor dome of Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station - Credit: PA

Sizewell B nuclear power station could have its life extended by 20 years, owners EDF have revealed.

The French energy giant has also announced it is to extend the life of four of its other UK nuclear plants.

Meanwhile, the company is still insisting that a final investment decision on Hinkley Point C – which would spark the next stage of consultation on Sizewell C – is to take place “soon”.

EDF said Heysham 1 in Lancashire and a plant in Hartlepool, both due to be decommissioned in 2019, will continue for an extra five years.

Heysham 2 and Torness in Scotland will have extensions of seven years to 2030.

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The move will safeguard more than 2,000 direct jobs and some 1,000 contractors at the sites, which provide electricity for a quarter of British homes.

Sizewell B is the most modern of all the county’s nuclear power stations and celebrated 21 years of generating electricity on Sunday – and is not due to be decommissioned for another 19 years.

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An EDF spokeswoman said: “Sizewell B will operate until 2035 but this could be extended by 20 years.

“The station is already a key employer in the eastern region bringing some £40million pounds each year into the local economy through wages alone.

“Over 550 people are directly employed at the site on the Suffolk coast with a further 200 carrying out contract roles.”

EDF said the decision to extend generation at the other four plants followed “extensive technical and safety reviews”.

Chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “Our continuing investment, our expertise and the professional relationship we have with the safety regulator means we can safely prolong the operating life of our nuclear power stations.

“Their excellent output shows that reliability is improving whilst their safety and environmental performance is higher than ever.”

It had been expected that a board meeting might be called this week to approve the final investment decision for Hinkley Point C, but once again speculation has proved fruitless.

EDF has agreed a deal in principle for the £18billion Hinkley project under which China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) will pay a third of the cost.

An EDF spokeswoman said: “Hinkley Point C is a strong project which is fully ready for a final investment decision and successful construction. Final steps are well in hand to enable the full construction phase to be launched very soon.”

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