THE number of workers building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station could reach 15,000, nearly three times the original forecast.

A development consent order (DCO) was approved in 2013 by the Government to allow the UK’s first new nuclear build in a generation, and construction started in 2016.

French-owned energy firm EDF, which is building the power station with minority Chinese investment via a company named NNB Generation Company (HPC) Ltd, estimated at the time the number of workers on site would reach a peak of 5,600.

In 2022, it informed local councils of an uplift in the peak workforce to about 8,600, citing the effects of the Covid pandemic.

Councillors were told they could not impose any workforce limit because the DCO did not contain a restriction.

However, they were able to negotiate agreements covering accommodation and transport to meet concerns about a large transient population of workers occupying local rented and holiday units, the impact of traffic on Somerset’s roads, and potential community safety issues.

Now, as Hinkley C is entering its peak construction phase, EDF has quietly announced the number of workers on site is likely to reach 15,000 and is already at 10,000.

The announcement comes after it was revealed the cost of Hinkley C could nearly double to £35 billion, and it might not start producing electricity until 2031, six years later than planned.

A Hinkley Point C spokesperson told the Free Press: “As Hinkley C moves into peak construction and the workforce grows, we are working with Somerset Council to ensure that we continue to limit any impact on the local area.

“Thousands of local people are helping to build this critical piece of national infrastructure and are benefiting from job and training opportunities across Somerset and beyond.”

Hinkley C’s two European Pressurised Water Reactors (EPR) will eventually produce 3.2 gigawatts, enough to meet about seven per cent of the UK’s energy demand and power an average six million homes.

Nuclear power is seen as vital in helping Britain achieve its net zero targets and strengthening the country’s energy security.