Hinkley Point C: 1,000 Welsh workers at English nuclear plant

Jessica Williams
Image caption Apprentice Jessica Williams planned a career at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey, but is now moving 280 miles south

A quarter of the 4,000 construction workers at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset are from Wales, the BBC has been told.

It comes after several large infrastructure projects in Wales were either cancelled or suspended.

These include rail electrification from Cardiff to Swansea, Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant and the M4 relief road.

Hinkley Point C also took on 21 apprentices from Wylfa Newydd.

One of them is 21-year-old Jessica Williams, who is in the second year of her apprenticeship and will move about 280 miles south to Somerset this summer to complete her qualification.

When Wylfa Newydd, on Anglesey, was suspended earlier this year, the French company behind Hinkley Point C, EDF, came looking for future workers.

Image copyright EDF
Image caption The cranes building Hinckley Point C can be seen from the south Wales coast, about 14 miles away

"The transition was a bit of a shock to be honest… I would have liked to stay on Anglesey but it's a good opportunity so I can't give it a miss," Miss Williams said.

"It's a bit disheartening to be honest, but you've got to do what you've got to do."

She said she was excited to see where her career and transferable skills take her, but hoped to return to Anglesey at some point.

EDF has also looked to Wales for construction workers to build Hinkley Point C.

Image caption Robert Morris travels to Hinkley Point C in Somerset from Pontypridd every Monday morning, returning on Friday

Most of the 1,000 Welsh construction workers travel there at the beginning of a week and stay in the specially-constructed "Hinkley campus", before returning home on a Friday.

At one point there was concern there would be a construction skills shortage in Wales because of the number of large infrastructure projects in the pipeline, but they did not get off the ground.

Robert Morris from Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taff, is a carpenter with 30 years' experience. He started the job in Somerset in February after working on a hospital in Cwmbran.

"In this game if you've got a year's work, you're laughing. I've got a lot more than that... It's nice to have certainty, especially in the construction industry."

Image caption The journey home to south Wales can take up to five hours, depending on traffic

Anecdotally, it is well-paid work and EDF said the project had already spent £1.1bn in the region - there are also about 80 Welsh companies in the supply chain.

CBI Wales director Ian Price said it was great to see Welsh firms winning business across the UK.

"However, the fact that many Welsh firms have to travel so far to find work is a reflection on the scarcity of made-in-Wales infrastructure projects," he added.

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