With the start of construction being held up by drawn out negotiations with government over the energy pricing structure, EDF said it was necessary to “refocus its activities” on the project.
Work will continue on detailed engineering design will continue but many of the support staff, construction team and procurement specialists had to be let go to cut costs.
A spokesman for EDF refuted suggestions that the redundancies were a move to step up pressure on the government in its ongoing negotiations over a contract for the electricity, insisting that it was “simply good project management”.
While consultation with the workforce was going on, it was not possible to say how many of the 800 people on the project – a mix of contractors, consultants and directly employed people – would be let go, the spokesman said. But it is a significant enough proportion for EDF to fell it necessary to issue this statement:
“As part of good project management, and to control costs, EDF Energy has taken steps to refocus its activities at its Hinkley Point C project. This reflects its priorities ahead of securing the financing necessary for the project.
“In this context much activity including further detailed pre-construction engineering work will continue ahead of the later construction phase. This means there will be a reduction in the number of people working on the project for the time being.
“Negotiations with the UK government to agree a contract for the electricity from Hinkley Point C are making progress.”
When (or if) construction of the nuclear power station in Somerset does get underway, 5,600 people are expected to be employed on the site at peak.