FIVE miles of tunnels beneath the Bristol Channel are now ready to be connected to the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station site.

Completion of the tunnels marked a major step in the construction of the power station’s cooling water system.

Six giant shaft liners have been installed on the seabed through the intake and outfall heads ready for a final connection to be made to the tunnels.

The 5,000-tonne head structures were lowered onto the seabed in 2022 and will circulate water to the nuclear power station.

The 270-tonne liners have been installed 80 feet below sea level and feature a world-first ‘isolation cap’.

The cap will allow work to be safely carried out in the tunnels during the power station’s construction and operation.

Miners will now make the final connection between the tunnels and the liners, which will allow water to start flowing into the power station.

A recent review of the Hinkley C project revealed it could cost twice as much to build as originally thought and might be up to six years late generating its first electricity.

It will be Britain’s first new nuclear power station in more than 20 years and was originally forecast to cost £18 billion and be ready to open in 2025, but now the cost has been put at up to £35 billion and the opening date might not be until 2031.

EDF is described as ‘leading the UK’s nuclear renaissance’ and has advanced plans for a Hinkley C replica to be built at Sizewell C in Suffolk.

Hinkley C and Sizewell C together would provide low carbon electricity to meet 14 per cent of UK demand and power about 12 million homes.

The company is one of the UK’s largest investors in renewable energy sources, with more than 1GW of renewable generation in operation and more than 5GW in construction, planning, and development across a range of technologies.

Its renewables portfolio includes onshore and offshore wind, solar, and battery storage.

EDF is also constructing its largest offshore wind farm in Britain, the 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe project in Scotland.