Restrictions on lorry movements imposed by local authorities will cause costly delays

Delays in the construction of the UK’s first new nuclear power plant could cost EDF Energy at least an additional £600m raising questions over the viability of building the plant.

As Building reported last week, that the construction programme for the plant could last up to two years longer than planned because of caps on lorry movements imposed by local authorities.

Nearly all road deliveries to the costal site in Somerset earmarked for the proposed £10bn new Hinkley plant, have to pass through the village of Cannington, which sits between Hinkley Point and the M5 - the nearest motorway.

EDF estimates that the current limit of 318 lorry movements a day through the village, enforced by the local authorities, would significantly delay completion of the scheme and wants to see the cap increased to 750 daily movements when construction begins.

Alistair Smith, chair of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ power division, said: “It wouldn’t increase the cost of the construction but there’s the fact that you’ve lost income.”

Smith said EDF could expect to earn around £300m a year for the electricity from the plant, which wouldn’t be available for another two years if the build process lasted longer.

Richard Clegg, global nuclear director at risk consultant Lloyd Register, added that a two year delay would see a “substantial” increase in interest payments for EDF to finance the project.

“There does come a point where you ask, ‘Does your appetite [for the risk] start to go?’ I don’t know when that is for EDF but a two year delay is not insignificant,” he said.

Currently West Somerset Council, Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council are refusing to lift the cap on lorry movements, which also limits the number of movements at peak times to 24 an hour, until a bypass around the village is built.

The councils say they are already receiving complaints from local residents about noise and disturbance caused by the number of lorries coming through the village to support site preparation works, currently being carried out by Kier BAM.

EDF has agreed to construct the bypass but this will not be completed until at least 19 months into the main phase of the project, which would start next year if the firm is granted permission to build by the Planning Inspectorate.