Securing net zero through nuclear

Paul Simon (Suffolk Chamber – Head of Communications and Campaigns) catches up with Paul Morton, Sizewell C’s new regional development director, about the progress being made with the exciting project to build a new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast.

By Sizewell C media team
By Sizewell C media team

Q: How different is your new role compared to your previous one?

A: I was station director at Sizewell B before being appointed the Sizewell C (SZC) regional development director and EDF’s chief nuclear officer in the area. It’s an interesting challenge moving from an operational power station to working on finalising plans to bring the next generation online. I have seen the benefits firsthand in terms of employment, skills and regional economic boost that Sizewell B delivers so I am focused on delivering SZC to provide the same. It’s an exciting time for the project and we are determined to make the most of it for the local area.

Q: What do you hope to see from the SZC supply chain in terms of local economic uplift?

A: It is clear to me that we have built up a strong relationship with Suffolk Chamber. That’s an important way for us to reach local businesses and the relationship is working because over 1,300 businesses have registered their interest in working with us through the supply chain portal which Suffolk Chamber manages for us. Alongside local supply chain opportunities, SZC will create well-paid, skilled jobs and training opportunities for Suffolk’s communities. We will use the lessons learned and expertise gained building Hinkley Point C in Somerset – along with the emerging SZC supply chain. Hinkley Point C is making incredible progress on-site in terms of construction. But we are also working hard to make sure the project benefits are accessible to people and businesses across the south west and the rest of the UK. The benefits range from increasing local employment and skills enhancement, to the development of a sustainable regional supply chain. Our socio-economic report, which is released annually, details some of the wider benefits the project is delivering. The report also shows how we’re meeting the ambitious targets that we set at the beginning of the project and builds on our growing reputation for doing what we said we would. • £1.3 billion spent with companies in the South West and a total of £1.7 billion committed contracts • 8,626 new job opportunities created on site • 529 apprenticeships created to date • £11 million delivered to local community projects to date.

“Hinkley Point C is making incredible progress on-site in terms of construction. But we are also working hard to make sure the project benefits are accessible to people and businesses across the south west and the rest of the UK.”

Q: More generally, what legacy are you looking to secure for SZC?

A: Our proposal for SZC would bring similar UK-wide benefits like Hinkley Point C – not only to the local, regional and UK supply chain, but also through employment opportunities, skills and training provision, where we aim to create 1,000 apprenticeships as well as investment in local infrastructure in Suffolk. The legacy is for generations to come, it is the skills and jobs we create that will provide sustainable careers.

Q: To what extent has the net-zero benefits of nuclear been a game changer for the sector and why?

A: SZC will help the country move away from polluting fossil fuels like coal and gas and will play a major role in fighting climate change. Alongside Sizewell B and Hinkley Point C, it will help an almost totally carbon-free electricity system work more reliably and affordably. It will help the electricity system cope better at times when there is too much or too little wind and sun power. Nuclear will help the UK deliver more renewables and is an integral part of the UK reaching net-zero.

Q: How is the company applying its learning from Hinkley Point C to the SZC project?

A: SZC will be an almost exact copy of Hinkley Point C in Somerset. This gives us a great advantage. Replication efficiencies are being learnt and captured for SZC C. We share oversight of the projects to ensure those lessons are put in place.

Q: EDF is portrayed by some SZC opponents as being a remote corporate entity? How would you like the company to be regarded here in Suffolk?

A: We are part of the local community. We employ over 800 local people here in Suffolk, so EDF is delivering high value and long-term careers. We work with local businesses and proactively engage with local schools and colleges to make sure we are part of the community we serve. Anyone who wants to learn more about what we do can visit our Sizewell visitor centre.

Source : Paul Simon – Chamber Voice – Spring 2020