Hinkley Programme agreed with Government to boost local economy

hinkleyThe Government’s confirmation of a ‘Hinkley Programme for 2014/15’ to stimulate economic growth in the area by preparing for the opportunities that will arise from the construction of the Hinkley power station, has been warmly welcomed by the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which recently agreed the package of support with Whitehall.

As the largest engineering project in Europe, the construction of Hinkley Point C is also the UK’s largest inward investment project.  The LEP anticipates the programme will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to boost the jobs and economic prosperity and generate thousands of training opportunities for local people.

The LEP has been working with its partners over many months to make sure the construction of the nuclear power station delivers maximum possible benefit to the people and businesses across the Heart of the South West.  These activities to be supported by the Hinkley Programme will be delivered in 2014-15 however the LEP also has projects in the pipeline for future years, which are also designed to maximise the economic opportunities presented by the construction of Hinkley.

The package of support for this financial year includes:

•    £150,000 to develop the Hinkley supply chain;
•    £1,700,000 allocated through Bridgwater College to a consortium of education and skills providers for nuclear-related training projects;
•    Around £225,000 from the Manufacturing Advisory Service;
•    Support for the development of a Hinkley Point Training Agency;
•    £200,000 from Job Centre Plus to provide employability support;
•    Dedicated expert advice on housing, including the establishment of a Hinkley Enabling and Review Group within Homes and Communities Agency.

Steve Hindley, Chairman of the Heart of the South West LEP, said:

“This is a huge opportunity for Somerset and the wider area, and this package of support will help us kick start our plans to make the most of the construction of Hinkley Point C.  We are already looking at ways to mobilise extra resources to make the most of the Government’s offer as Hinkley is a one of a handful of major projects which have the potential to transform our economic prospects.  I am really delighted that the programme of support has been finalised as it will help us as we continue our work to increase economic growth in the area.”

The LEP’s partner organisations also welcomed the announcement.

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy, said:

“We welcome the announcement of the Hinkley Programme for 2014/15.  The development of Hinkley Point C has great implications for the national and local economy and we have been keen to see early action to ensure that people and businesses in Somerset and the wider Heart of the South West are well placed to benefit from the opportunities that this creates.”

Chris Langdon, Somerset Chambers of Commerce’s Hinkley Supply Chain Project Manager, said:

“This support is very welcome at a critical time for local and regional suppliers actively seeking to secure contracts at Hinkley C. Even though the Hinkley C project still awaits the final green light there is a massive ramp up of demand from the supply chain to help identify relevant work package opportunities valued in the £ hundreds of millions and assess how best to offer local proposals of sufficient quality and value.

“The Chambers Hinkley Supplier Enabling Team already supports the preparation of 8 supplier clusters working up potential solutions and is expecting many more opportunities for local and regional suppliers to consider. Our team will continue to leverage support for businesses from MAS, NAMRC, local Colleges and private sector specialists. We welcome the closer links and funding flexibility being offered for the benefit of the supply chain.

“There are some big challenges ahead but the opportunity is huge. This funding for 2014-15 will allow us to continue what has started and we look forward to working with EDF Energy, Main Contractors and the local supply chain leadership to deliver some really high value, high skilled supplier engagement with the Hinkley c project that leaves real economic and skills legacy in the region.”

Andy Berry, Vice Principal, Bridgwater College, said:

“We are really pleased to have secured the £1.7m ESF ‘Skills Fund for Hinkley’.  The fund will be used to support SMEs from across the region to prepare to join the Hinkley Point C supply chain. We are working closely with EDF Energy and the Somerset Chamber of Commerce to ensure the training is designed to meet demand.  SMEs will be able to access the skills development programmes from a range of private providers and colleges from across the region.  Bridgwater College is also using some of the funding to support the development of the Hinkley Point Training Agency (HPTA).  The HPTA will act as an essential interface between the HPC project, government and skills providers.  It will ensure that both government funding and regional skills provision are aligned with the project.”

Councillor Tim Taylor, Leader of West Somerset District Council, said:

“The Government’s announcement of funding via the Hinkley Programme for this financial year is fantastic news and a real credit to local partners who have been working together to deliver this welcome package of measures.

“We are particularly pleased that our colleges in Bridgwater and West Somerset have received such a large amount of money to build upon their great work in training young people and working with small businesses alongside our Chamber of Trade.

“We will work hard with the Homes and Communities Agency on maximising the housing legacy which is a hugely positive opportunity. Clearly the construction of Hinkley Point C will take us into the next decade and we hope this signals the first of a number of deals with Government designed to make the most of the massive investment by EDF Energy.”

Councillor Duncan McGinty, Leader of Sedgemoor District Council, said:

“This is fantastic news for the communities around Hinkley Point. Investment in jobs, houses and training is vital at this stage, so that we can be get the best from the project in years to come.   The work that goes into putting a bid into government is often invisible, but the results of that hard work are very welcome.”

The £16bn Hinkley project will be Europe’s largest construction scheme and the UK’s largest inward investment project, employing 5,600 individuals at peak and involving around 1,000 suppliers over the lifetime of the project.