£60m bid for future of Hartlepool’s nuclear power station

HARTLEPOOL nuclear power station director Simon Parsons
HARTLEPOOL nuclear power station director Simon Parsons

POWER station bosses are putting together a £60m strategy to extend the life of Hartlepool’s nuclear plant.

Simon Parsons, the director of the power station, revealed the plans to the Hartlepool Mail and said it was important to protect the livelihoods of the 700-strong workforce who he described as “amazing and incredible.”

By the end of next year, he hopes to know whether the plant would be granted permission to keep on running until 2024. Its current life extension is until 2019.

Mr Parsons spoke to the Hartlepool Mail at a time when, had all original proposals remained in place, the power station would have closed. The original forecast, when it was first built, was to shut on March 31, 2014.

But Mr Parsons added: “We have had 30 years of reliable and safe generation without any issues. That is fantastic and it builds trust with local people.

“EDF has signed on a life extension from 2014 to 2019 and we are now making a commercial case to run the plant for five more years.”

That strategy would mean an estimated £60m investment in safety and the plant itself, but Mr Parsons said: “What you are trying to guarantee is ten more years of jobs. Ninety per cent of the people who work here live within ten miles of the station.

“I have been involved in two stations closing down and it has a big impact on the community.”

He said the station has a £40m-a-year salary bill but set against that, Hartlepool’s plant provides two per cent of all of the UK’s electricity needs.

A life extension of the plant to 2024 could be extended further, Mr Parsons said.

He paid tribute to the staff who run the plant where he took over as director two years ago.

“I have more friends here than I have in the south west which is where I come from. The people here are very honest and very humble and that is something I will never try and change. It is inspiring and it is gobsmacking.

“Whatever challenges come this way, it is an absolute privilege to do this job and I am proud to be a part of this community and this station.”

Mr Parsons said that, while Hartlepool was on a list of sites where a new power station could be built, the framework for now was to build the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset.

That was a £15billion scheme and the plan would be to evaluate that before deciding on a new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk.

Hartlepool is on a list of further sites where new build could take place.

A new Hartlepool nuclear power station would employ approximately 450 highly-skilled people over 70 years. During construction up to 3,000 staff would be needed over a five year construction period.

The station would generate enough energy to power 1.5m homes.

But Mr Parsons said the focus now was on the existing plant in town.

“Hartlepool has a massive part to play and the Government wants a balanced energy mix. There is a part to play for everyone.