The UK’s nuclear regulator has granted its first consent for construction to start at EDF’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.
The French utility’s £18 billion project will be the first nuclear plant to be built in Britain in a generation.
The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said the consent covers the placement of the structural concrete for the first nuclear safety-related structure at the site in Somerset.
EDF NNB Generation Company (GenCo), the site licensee, will now start the process for the “technical galleries” of the power station.
That’s a series of underground reinforced concrete structures to be located beneath the site and some above-ground structures, connecting services such as cooling water and electricity.
Mike Finnerty, Deputy Chief Nuclear Inspector and Director of ONR’s New Reactors programme said: “We have carried out extensive assessment of EDF’s safety case and preparedness for this important step at Hinkley Point C. However, this does not give consent for all elements of construction.
“We will continue to regulate NNB GenCo’s activities and have implemented a number of hold-points to ensure we have full regulatory control over the various construction and commissioning stages through to start of operation.”
A United Nations Committee recently asked the UK to suspend work on the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant because of the government’s failure to consult with European countries over the project.
The UK Government has been forced to pay £100 million of taxpayers’ money to two US engineering firms after mishandling a nuclear decommissioning contract.