THE building of a nuclear power station has reached a major milestone this week.

Permission has been granted, by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), to start a bulk mechanical, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (MEH) component installation work at Hinkley Point C.

This project will require a work force of up to 4,000 at peak times, which will consist of welders, pipe fitters and electricians.

This phase of construction work is set to take place over three years.

NNB Genco, the subsidiary created by EDF Energy, will team up with four suppliers – Balfour Beatty Bailey, Doosan, Cavendish and Altrad - to complete the work.

Construction of Hinkley Point C, which is near Bridgwater, began in 2016.

Last year, EDF Energy said the site should start generating electricity by 2026.

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Shane Turner, superintending inspector for Hinkley Point C, said: "With ONR's agreement to permission bulk MEH installation in Unit 1 nuclear island, this represents a major change to the project.

"Our scrutiny of the work at Hinkley Point C has remained constant from the start and this will remain the same as developments move to its next important phase.

"At the front and centre of our regulation of any under construction plant is clear evidence from a site licensee to demonstrate its overall installations complies with the highest standards of UK safety and security.

"Only once these are met will ONR sanction the site to proceed to the next stages of the construction, installation and commissioning."

Somerset County Gazette: PERMISSION GRANTED: Milestone for Hinkley C. Pic: EDF Energy

A 36-page project assessment report setting out ONR’s decision to grant permission for the start of bulk MEH has been published today (January 27) on ONR's website.

ONR has said they have scrutinised the plans using five cornerstone themes -– organisational capability, design and safety, licence condition compliance, conventional health and safety, and fire safety, and nuclear security and safeguards.

So far, most of the activity at Hinkley Point C has been in the field of civil construction, but work on site is set to significantly increase around the installation of mechanical and electrical components and welding.

ONR has said they have communicated with overseas nuclear regulators to understand the experiences of construction teams previously working on EPR reactor sites abroad and any issues encountered during the bulk MEH installation phase.