Contractor says securing Horizon jobs would not count it out of Hinkley Point race

Balfour Beatty’s operations boss has insisted that winning the contract to build nuclear power stations for Horizon would not count the contractor out of the race for EDF’s plant at Hinkley Point.

Balfour Beatty is hotly tipped to win the job to build up to four nuclear power stations in Wylfa, on the Isle of Anglesey, and Oldbury, South Gloucestershire, for the utility joint venture Horizon Nuclear Power.

The contractor is working with French reactor builder Areva on its bid for the contract, which could be worth up to £10bn. It is up against a team that includes Laing O’Rourke and US-based reactor builder Westinghouse.

Horizon Nuclear Power said it would announce a winner by the end of this month. But an industry source told Building this week that the Areva-Balfour Beatty team was “in line to win”.

Balfour Beatty chief operations officer Andrew McNaughton would not comment on the tip, but insisted that winning the Horizon job would not count the firm out of the race for the EDF plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset.

He said: “We can do both, absolutely. The phasing is completely different. There’s a lot more front-end engineering work to be done for the Horizon project. EDF has made technology decision, so it’s about who it wants as a [civils] partner.”

Horizon’s stations will be the second wave of nuclear plants to be built under the government’s new build programme, following the plants at Hinkley.

EDF is using an Areva reactor and is set to grant either Balfour Beatty and Vinci or Laing O’Rourke and Bouygues the £2.5bn civils job in the summer.

As Building revealed earlier this month, a consortium comprising Costain, Sir Robert McAlpine and two German firms was cut from the race. Sources suggested the lack of a French partner had harmed their bid.

McNaughton said having a French partner “helps” as France was the only European country “actively building nuclear”.

“They’ve got current knowledge and large engineering capability in nuclear and that’s something the UK dismantled in the nineties,” he said.