Pandemic has meant half a million days lost in past two years

The cost of the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point has gone up again with the impact the covid-19 pandemic putting the completion date back a year.

The new opening date is now June 2027 with the total cost estimated to between £25bn and £26bn.

The scheme was originally expected to cost around £18bn and be finished at the end of 2025.

EDF Hinkley - Social distancing

Social distancing measures introduced because of the pandemic meant more than 500,000 days have been lost as a result

It is being built by French energy giant EDF with contractors working on it including Laing O’Rourke, Bouygues and Balfour Beatty.

In a statement to the project team, Stuart Crooks, managing director of Hinkley Point C, said: “You will all have experienced the severe impact of Covid-19 on the project over the last two years. You will remember how we suddenly had to cut numbers on site from more than 5,000 to around 1,500.

“For many months after that, we remained far below our plan for site numbers as our ability to fully ramp up activity was thwarted by the need for measures to prevent infection.

“Keeping workers safe with social distancing in canteens, buses and at work meant we had no choice but to become less efficient. In civil construction alone, having fewer people than planned means we lost in excess of half a million individual days of critical work in 2020 and 2021.

“Our supply chain was also hit hard and is still impacted now. In April 2020, 180 suppliers were fully shut down, but even as late as February this year, more than 60 suppliers were operating with reduced productivity due to Covid.”

He added: “In total, the start date for Unit 1 has gone back 18 months since construction started in 2016. In such a complex project, it wouldn’t be credible to say we can measure exactly how much of this is due to Covid-19 impact, but it is clearly in excess of 12 months.”