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Net Zero: Burden or Opportunity?

Evie is one of 8,000 who has learnt new skills at Hinkley Point C. Around 1/3rd of those being trained today are from Britain's most deprived areas.

Andrew Cockcroft, Hinkley Point C – Head of Stakeholder Relations and Social Impact

Andrew Cockcroft, Hinkley Point C – Head of Stakeholder Relations and Social Impact | EDF

3 min read Partner content

Is Net Zero a burden for hard-pressed citizens or an opportunity to stimulate the economy and boost flagging productivity? As Britain’s biggest action on climate change, the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C is a case study that provides answers to the question.

Research for the project’s annual Socio-Economic Impact Report shows that it is not enough simply to spend money. The project has had to develop human and industrial capacity so that British workers and businesses can benefit. That means hard work to put new training centres in place and to help build a British-based supply chain.

At Hinkley Point C, 8,000 have already been trained at three new “Centres of Excellence” and a third of them come from Britain’s most deprived areas. They are learning skills desperately needed in the British economy – skills they can take to other jobs and businesses as they develop their careers. 

The Centres will offer 30,000 training places, including 4,500 places in the next 12 months. The Centres play a big part in training apprentices. Hinkley Point C has trained 1,320 so far – well above the initial target of 1,000. Apprenticeships are available in more than 70 different disciplines, from welding and nuclear engineering to finance and catering.

Hinkley Point C also provides an opportunity for young people to stay locally. West Somerset has a history of low social mobility and an ageing population. Since the construction of Hinkley Point C began there has been a 25% growth in younger age groups (25-39) in the local area - a demographic change that will help provide local businesses with the workforce they need to grow and develop.

More than 3,800 British businesses are supporting the construction of the new power station and almost 1,400 of them are from the South West of England. Factories to support the station’s fit out are at work in North Wales, Gateshead, Hull, Bradford and Bolton. As that work accelerates, the project continues to work with the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, Somerset Council and the Southwest Manufacturing Advisory Service to encourage inward investment and link local businesses to the opportunities available.

As with skills, Hinkley Point C is making a difference to the local economy. The area is seeing a growth in the number of small and medium sized companies that is ten times higher than anywhere else in the Southwest and £5.3 billion has now been spent directly with businesses across the region. Bridgwater, Hinkley Point C’s closest town is seeing sustained growth and productivity is now 10% higher than surrounding towns.

But growth must be sustainable. Here in Somerset we are already working on plans to ensure that Hinkley Point C acts as a catalyst for much longer-term growth, leaving a legacy of a more skilled and productive workforce, that gives the county’s economy a competitive edge. The station itself will provide 900 permanent jobs for at least 60 years.

So investment in green energy can help people get better skills and jobs, boosting productivity and prosperity, but what about consumers? They will benefit from the energy security provided by nuclear electricity available on demand and more stable prices.

To learn more about the experience at Hinkley Point C, you can read the full report here.

Hinkley Point C’s positive impact in numbers

  • More than 8,000 people have been trained in Hinkley Point C’s new Centres of Excellence 
  • Almost one third of those being trained today are from the most deprived areas of Britain 
  • 1,320 apprentices have been trained so far 
  • The area around Hinkley Point C has seen a 25% growth in younger people aged 25-39 
  • Productivity in the local town of Bridgwater is now 10% higher than surrounding towns 

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