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Gloucestershire Business News

South West businesses to benefit from £18billion Hinkley Point contracts

Opportunities for investment in large-scale projects in the South West's nuclear sector have never been stronger, according to findings by business development experts.

The Hinkley Supply Chain programme, which works with South West businesses to secure work on the £18bn Hinkley Point C construction project, has revealed areas where UK and international firms could win work by collaborating with each other.

EDF Energy and CGN have pledged that 64 per cent of the value of contracts linked to the construction will go to British businesses and with Hinkley Point C now entering the mechanical, electrical and heating phase, the opportunities are only increasing.

The South West is home to more than 300 companies who are able to support highly qualified nuclear products into the existing nuclear fleets.

The region is also home to a number of other strong clusters such as aerospace, defence and marine.

There is also an opportunity for international firms to invest in the South West by partnering with those firms.

Nick Golding, supply chain director at the Hinkley Supply Chain Programme said: "There is an opportunity for companies with qualified Nuclear products and systems from France, China and the USA to partner with businesses in the South West of England.

"British companies understand the UK's regulations, culture and systems and have a great deal of experience on existing nuclear programmes in the UK.

"But many have not qualified the equipment to latest standards, which are now being applied to nuclear new build in this country for the first time.

"International firms may have qualified products, but also have some common challenges on regulations that they may not have had exposure to in the UK before such as construction and design management.

"Both groups need support to help move forward and we believe the partnering opportunities could create a situation where both companies benefit to a greater extent than either could achieve individually."

The South West's nuclear industry is rapidly growing and plays a significant role in supporting the region's economy through investment, innovation and creating high skilled jobs.

The value of opportunities within the Nuclear South West cluster are estimated to be worth around £50billion.

These opportunities were shared with delegates during a visit to the South West by British Embassy staff as part of the Department for International Trade's UK briefing tour, which helps commercial officers develop sector knowledge.

The training offered an opportunity for DIT officers to capture first-hand experience of the sector in action and to better develop their networks within the UK.

Matt Burley, Nuclear South West Chairman said: "The South West's nuclear sector presents opportunities from a huge range of sectors not just in the UK but across the globe.

"We're keen to work with businesses in these sectors so they can capitalise on these opportunities and build on the region's success."

DIT recently revealed figures for foreign direct investment showing a 15 per cent drop and is confident this can be reversed following the desire from overseas countries to invest in this sector and particularly this region.

Around 16 commercial officers from across France, the USA, China, Germany, Turkey and eastern Europe visited Hinkley Point B and the National College for Nuclear in Bridgwater, Somerset.

They heard from nuclear experts and practitioners about their experiences, across many aspects of the nuclear supply chain and plant life cycle.

Speakers at the event included Paul Goss, Head of the National College for Nuclear, Dr Harry Coules, SW Nuclear Hub, Supply Chain Director Nick Golding and Andy Bates, Inward Investment specialist from the Hinkley Supply Chain Programme.

It is hoped that overseas companies will also visit the UK on 2nd and 3rd October as part of the two-day NSW19 event and conference, which aims to highlight current and future opportunities in new build, decommissioning, defence and new technologies.

It offers the opportunity to network with senior industry representatives and engage in 1-2-1 meetings with companies across the different supply chains.

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