EDF's latest moves to keep construction at Hinkley C going while 'limiting contact' between the site and the local community have been met with mixed reaction.

Hinkley C is one of the largest construction projects in Europe, and to try and comply with government guidelines over social distancing in the coronavirus crisis, EDF has taken a number of actions including reducing the workforce by around 50 per cent to around 2,000 workers.

The new nuclear power station site had already put in body temperature checks at the security gates, put on extra buses and is carrying out extensive cleaning of buses, canteens, handrails, door handles, desks and toilets.

Then on Wednesday, further measures were announced including bus pick-up stops no longer being used from Monday (April 6), and that all site workers using local accommodation would be housed at HPC's two campus sites.

Bridgwater councillor Leigh Redman said while he was pleased to see further steps being taken, he did still have some concerns about the measures.

Cllr Redman said: "I am pleased HPC have taken further steps to protect their staff, as well as increasing spacing on site and in transit.

"Our concerns were around the potential impact of workers travelling home at weekends and then returning to live in the town during the week.

"Ramping up the use of their accommodation campuses and consequently reducing transient staff must be a good thing."
However Cllr Redman added that he felt the removal of all the Bridgwater bus stops could be 'counter-intuitive'.

"Many local residents who work on site don't have cars, and may face needless journeys to find a way to one of the secure parks.

"I think I understand some of the reason the site is staying open.

"The need to ensure the nuclear concrete pour is as continuous as possible is just one reason, but once complete I do hope, for staff and residents, the onsite staff can be further reduced through furlough.

"In acknowledging these actions it is important to recognise that HPC have listened to our concerns.”

Matt Roberts of the GMB union, said trade unions were having direct input into the new controls and measures being implemented on a daily basis at the site.

Mr Roberts said: "In recent weeks, the number of workers on site has been drastically cut to ensure distancing is feasible and GMB representatives on the site have been taking a proactive role in marshalling colleagues during shift changeovers to ensure safety measures are followed correctly.

"Members should have no doubt that safety is the number one priority of this union and we are fighting every day to ensure that workers can work in the safest way possible. 

"The decision on whether work continues on Hinkley Point C during the Coronavirus pandemic is ultimately one for HM Government to make.”

However one disgruntled HPC worker, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted the Bridgwater Mercury on Thursday (April 2), saying it wasn't feasible for workers to follow the government guidelines on social distancing.

The worker said: "It just isn't practical - in construction you need to work in pairs, threes or sometimes fours to get something done. 

"If I am working on something and I need two guys supporting, we are going to need to be within half a metre of each other.

"In the canteen we are now seating two people opposite diagonally on a table of four - again it’s still only about half a metre.

"They want the workers using local accommodation to stay at the campuses - how are those canteens going to cope?

“The mood among the workforce is at an all time low. Construction should be suspended."

Hinkley Point C delivery director Nigel Cann, said: “The safety of the community we operate in and our remaining workers on site is of paramount importance. 

"We are listening and adapting to feedback to help us improve wherever we can and we are closely following Government and Public Health England advice”