HINKLEY Point C has helped boost the population of young people aged 25 to 39 in the Bridgwater area by a quarter, a new report has found.

The report, published by EDF, says there has been a 25 per cent growth in that demographic in the Sedgemoor area since the project began – a figure three times greater than the national average.

According to the the HPC Socio-Economic Impact Report 2024, the nuclear construction project is “providing an opportunity for young people to stay and thrive in West Somerset and Sedgemoor, an area with a history of low social mobility and an ageing population”.

The report focuses on ‘positive impacts’ of the Hinkley Point C project, particularly around employment and the local economy.

It says more than 8,000 people have been trained in Hinkley Point C’s Centres of Excellence for welding, electrical, mechanical and construction skills, which will offer 30,000 training places over their lifetimes.

Somerset County Gazette: Evie Holdsworth, 17, a geospatial surveying apprentice from Bridgwater.Evie Holdsworth, 17, a geospatial surveying apprentice from Bridgwater. (Image: EDF)

Most of those come from the south west of England and south Wales, and a third come from officially deprived areas.

The centres are operated by one of the project’s key partners, Bridgwater & Taunton College, as part of a £24 million investment in education and skills.

Other positive impacts in the report include:

  • A total of 1,320 apprentices have been trained so far in hospitality, accountancy, project management, surveying and other areas
  • Productivity in Bridgwater is now 10 per cent higher than surrounding towns
  • The power station will provide 900 permanent jobs for at least 60 years
  • The Sedgemoor district is seeing a growth in the number of small and medium sized companies that is 10 times higher than anywhere else in the south west, with ten new companies employing 250-500 people since 2011
  • £5.3 billion has now been spent directly with businesses across the region.

Hinkley Point C’s managing director Stuart Crooks said: “As a former apprentice, I know that giving people the chance to learn new skills can change lives and communities for the better.

“This report shows that our big investment in net zero nuclear electricity is playing a vital role in tackling problems of low growth, poor productivity and inequality.

“Our investment is a one-hundred-year commitment to the area.

“I am pleased that we are making a difference and I am determined that our social impact will endure for many years to come.”

Somerset County Gazette: A landmark in the construction project as a huge dome is lifted onto the reactor one building.A landmark in the construction project as a huge dome is lifted onto the reactor one building.

Andy Berry, principle and CEO of Bridgwater & Taunton College said: “Through our partnership with Hinkley Point C, we are immensely proud to be providing a regional and national solution for the skills to achieve net zero.

“We are committed to providing accessible, high-quality education that accommodates diverse needs and abilities and a culture of inclusivity and opportunity.

“Together with Hinkley Point C, we are not only transforming the lives of individuals by preparing them for outstanding future careers, but also driving regional prosperity and positioning the south west and the UK as a leader in the global nuclear sector.”

Once complete, Hinkley Point C will produce enough zero-carbon electricity to power around six million homes.

But in January, EDF – the French electricity firm that owns two-thirds of the project – said the proposed start date for electricity production had been pushed back from June 2027 to “around the end of the decade”.

Its estimate for the final bill also rose by a third from £25-26 billion to £31-34 billion in 2015 values. Adjusted for inflation, this could reach £46 billion.

The China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) owns a one-third stake in the project.