British companies could receive added protection from foreign takeovers under new government proposals – just months after Theresa May cast doubt on a nuclear-power-station deal with China. The proposals have been presented as being “in the interests of national security.” May suspended progress on a nuclear-power plant being built in Somerset, in which the Chinese had a central role. China General Nuclear (CGN) agreed to take a 33-percent stake in £18-billion ($23.8-billion) Hinkley Point C project, alongside French firm EDF. However, progress on the project was paused by May in one of her early acts as Prime Minister in order to allow closer examination of the details. CGN was “delighted” that Theresa May eventually agreed to the partnership, but the new proposals seem to indicate that something got her spooked. Business Secretary Greg Clark said the new rules will allow state intervention in the case of businesses that involve “the advanced technology sector,” and companies that “design or manufacture military and dual-use products.” Although Clark did not mention China by name, the country’s growing pre-eminence in those sectors is widely recognized. “It is right that every so often the Government reviews its mergers regime to close loopholes where they arise and this is what these proposals do in the area of national security,” Clark said, ahead of a consultation on the plans. “No part of the economy is off-limits to foreign investment and the UK will continue to be a vociferous advocate for free trade and a magnet for global talent.”

Russia Today 18th Oct 2017 read more »

Ian Holcroft joins Murphy at the start of November from the Hinkley nuclear power station project where he has been leading the procurement for Bylor, a joint venture between Laing O’Rourke and Bouygues TP.

Construction Index 19th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 19 October 2017


The Layers on the edge of Saxmundham has been enjoyed and used by residents for more than a century for recreation, as venue for the Suffolk Show, a camp for troops in the Second World War, farmland, and as a haven for wildlife. But now Hopkins Homes has proposed building up to 225 houses on the 50-acre site, plus a £4.35million primary school and country park, while a consultant’s report has suggested The Layers could be developed as an accommodation campus for construction workers for Sizewell C. The Leave The Layers Alone campaign, launched to fight plans for the site stretching from South Entrance alongside and partly straddling the B1121, next to the rail line, as far as Benhall Green, said either option would “destroy the historic landscape forever and place a potentially catastrophic burden on Saxmundham’s oldest and most fragile neighbourhoods” around the town centre and conservation area.

East Anglian Daily Times 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 19 October 2017


Contractors at Hinkley Point will have to replace 150 cubic metres of concrete poured on the site as part of work to form tunnels to contain pipes and cables. Problems have been identified in sections of the concrete base slabs constructed above the galleries sections of tunnels which will contain site infrastructure. The Enquirer understands that the problem concrete is local to a small stretch of the 8km network of galleries tunneling. Only 150 cubic metres of material are affected from the first 60,000 cubic metres poured on the site so far. Nothing has been built on the slab and it does not form part of the foundations for the main nuclear power plant building where work is not due to get underway for 18 months. A joint venture of Kier and Bam Nuttall is main contractor on the site earthworks package.

Construction Enquirer 16th Oct 2017 read more »

Hinkley Point C has been hit by another setback after it emerged that parts of a tunnel network will have to be demolished due to issues with the concrete foundations.

Construction News 16th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 17 October 2017


Part of the giant Hinkley Point nuclear plant will have to be demolished and rebuilt after inspectors found problems with its concrete foundations, in the latest setback for the £20bn project. EDF, the owner, is understood to have found weaknesses in a small area of the foundations that have been laid on the Somerset coast. The French energy giant insisted the problem is isolated to 150 cubic metres where pipes and cables are due to be laid, and said it will not delay construction. Yet the discovery will raise concerns about the plant, which will house Britain’s first new nuclear reactors in a generation. EDF admitted in July that costs at Hinkley, which is being bankrolled by the French and Chinese governments, would rise by £1.5bn to £20.3bn and that it may be completed 15 months later than its December 2025 deadline. Hinkley’s two sister plants, Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland, have suffered hefty cost hikes and long delays. The problems were found in a patch of “substitution” concrete that forms the foundations of the first of the site’s 5 miles of “galleries” — a series of deep trenches that will house the plant’s pipes and electric cables. The inspection found problems including “weak concrete”, “poor-quality cleanliness” and an area of concrete that was not wide enough. Fixing the problem will mean demolishing another layer of “slab” concrete that had been poured on top of the foundations. EDF said there were no problems with the rest of the galleries that have since been built — or with the nuclear island, the critical base on which the reactors will be built. EDF added that the problematic concrete was a fraction of the 60,000 cubic metres of concrete that have already been poured at Hinkley.

Times 15th Oct 2017 read more »

More than 300,000 tonnes of “radioactive” mud, some of it the toxic byproduct of Britain’s atomic weapons programme, will be dredged to make way for England’s newest nuclear power station and dumped in the Severn estuary just over a mile from Cardiff. Politicians in Wales have denounced the move, with one accusing the Welsh government of selling out to London and the nuclear lobby. They have called on ministers to commit to further radiological tests before giving consent for the process, which is crucial for the construction of Hinkley Point C across the estuary in Somerset. An independent marine pollution researcher, Tim Deere-Jones, who is also a prominent nuclear power critic, has warned that the dumped sediment could re-concentrate into more powerful radioactive material and be washed ashore in storm surges. “We know sediment in mudflats can dry out and blow ashore and that fine sediment with radioactivity attached can transfer to the land in marine aerosols and sea spray,” Deere-Jones said. Studies of north Wales tidal surges, he added, had revealed that the deposited mud and sand were heavily contaminated with radioactivity from Sellafield.

Guardian 14th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 15 October 2017


MORE than 5,000 people have signed a petition against the dumping of potentially radioactive mud in the waters off the Vale of Glamorgan coast. The petition calls for a licence to dump the mud from Hinkley Point nuclear reactor in the waters off south Wales to be suspended and will now have to be debated in a full plenary meeting. The petition was established by marine radiation expert Tim Deere-Jones. Welsh Government cabinet secretary for the environment Lesley Griffiths AM recently stated all licences are granted within legal requirements but Vale council leader Cllr John Thomas has expressed his concerns at the proposal.

Barry & District News 12th Oct 2017 read more »

YOUNG people are being encouraged to sign-up to be part of one of Europe’s biggest construction projects – and they don’t necessarily need to have an interest in building or engineering to apply. EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C team yesterday launched a new programme called Young HPC for young people aged 16-21 at the One Step Foundation’s Somerset Careers Fair held in the Sedgemoor Auction House. EDF say Young HPC is designed to help local young people discover the diverse range of job opportunities available to them at the Hinkley Point C project – everything from catering and security to marine work, welding and administration work.

Bridgwater Mercury 12th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 October 2017


The National Grid should pay towards the cost of a new £200m Menai crossing rather than ‘wasting millions’ on an underground tunnel to carry cables under the strait. The claim comes from Anglesey’s Assembly Member following confirmation that proposals for a third bridge connecting the island to the mainland remain on track for completion by 2022, significantly reducing traffic congestion during peak periods. There have long been calls for the Grid to pay for part of the estimated £200m structure, which would also carry their cables, instead of forging ahead with plans for a £100m tunnel under the seabed between Anglesey and Gwynedd to carry the electricity generated from projects such as Wylfa Newydd and underwater turbines off the coast of Holyhead.

Daily Post 12th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 October 2017

New Nuclear

Even countries with long-standing nuclear aims are adding wind power much faster, as Brazil, China, and India show. Those interested in the fastest way to mitigate climate change can forget nuclear, says Craig Morris. China has long had ambitions for nuclear power and it still does; under current plans, installed capacity will double by 2020. But even China has experienced delays in reactor construction. In contrast, it has repeatedly had to increase its targets both for wind and solar. What’s more, wind power has taken off like a rocket, clearly outstripping nuclear power generation. The solar target for 2020 implicitly more than doubled last month. Note in the chart below, we are comparing kilowatt-hours – the actual electricity generated – not kilowatts (installed capacity). Things are no different in India. It now aims to increase nuclear capacity some threefold by 2024, but the country has also failed to meet previous targets for nuclear. The new target for 2024, for instance, is a third smaller than the one for (not from!) 1987. Both India and China have targets for rooftop solar that they are likely to miss, but India has otherwise managed to grow wind power impressively, with solar likely to come next.

Clean Technica 11th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 October 2017


The government is using the “extremely expensive” Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to cross-subsidise Britain’s nuclear weapon arsenal, according to senior scientists. In evidence submitted to the influential public accounts committee (PAC), which is currently investigating the nuclear plant deal, scientists from Sussex University state that the costs of the Trident programme could be “unsupportable” without “an effective subsidy from electricity consumers to military nuclear infrastructure”. Prof Andy Stirling and Dr Phil Johnstone from the Science Policy Research Unit at the university write that the £19.6bn Hinkley Point project w ill “maintain a large-scale national base of nuclear-specific skills” without which there is concern “that the costs of UK nuclear submarine capabilities could be insupportable.” Their evidence suggests that changes in the government’s policy on nuclear power in recent years will effectively allow Britain’s military nuclear industry to be supported by payments from electricity consumers. Last June, MPs passed a motion in favour of replacing four submarines carrying Trident missiles at a cost of £40bn. “What our research suggests is that British low-carbon energy strategies are more expensive than they need to be, in order to maintain UK military nuclear infrastructures,” said Stirling. “And without assuming the continuation of an extremely expensive UK civil nuclear industry, it is likely that the costs of Trident would be significantly greater.” Harriett Baldwin, the defence procurement minister, answered that “it is fully understood that civil and defence sectors must work together to make sure resource is prioritised appropriately for the protection and prosperity of the United Kingdom”. Johnstone said the decision-making process behind Hinkley raised questions about transparency and accountability, saying: “In this ever more networked world, both civil and military nuclear technologies are increasingly recognised as obsolete. Yet it seems UK policymaking is quietly trying to further entrench the two – in ways that have been escaping democratic accountability.” At a hearing held by the PAC in parliament on Monday, senior civil servants defended the Hinkley deal after a National Audit Office report concluded that it was “risky and expensive”. At the PAC hearing, the Labour MP Meg Hillier asked whether “Hinkley is a great opportunity to maintain our nuclear skills base”. Stephen Lovegrove answered: “We are completing the build of the nuclear submarines which carry conventional weaponry. So somehow there is very definitely an opportunity here for the nation to grasp in terms of building up its nuclear skills. I don’t think that’s going to happen by accident. It is going to require concerted government action to make that happen.”

Guardian 12th Oct 2017 read more »

Public Accounts Committee 25th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 13 October 2017


ENGINEERS will soon arrive to start preparations for a second nuclear power station in Bradwell. Residents will receive letters as EDF Energy and China General Nuclear Power Corporation start work on Bradwell B, at a greenfield site next to the former station. In January, it was announced the Government had asked nuclear regulators to begin the process of approving a Chinese-designed reactor for the new power plant at Bradwell. This week a letter has been sent to residents by Zhu Minhong, CEO of Bradwell Power Generation Company, and Richard Mayson, deputy CEO, explaining the upcoming works.

Essex County Standard 12th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 13 October 2017


The mechanical properties of the vessel head and bottom head of the Flamanville 3 EPR reactor pressure vessel are adequate and are therefore serviceable, the French nuclear regulator has concluded. However, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) still requires the vessel head to be replaced by the end of 2024.

World Nuclear News 12th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 13 October 2017