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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Bendalls’ nuclear new build deal potentially worth millions

ENGINEERING company Bendalls has signed an agreement that could lead to tens of millions of pounds of work on nuclear new build.

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Unveiling: Philippe Knoche, chief operations officer of Areva, announcing £200m worth of work on new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point, Somerset, available to UK companies including Bendalls Engineering of Carlisle

The business, based at Kingstown, Carlisle, was among 25 UK companies to sign ‘memoranda of understanding’ this week with the French nuclear-engineering firm Areva.

Bendalls will build pressure vessels for two reactors that Areva and its partner EDF Energy plan to build at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

That could lead to more orders on nuclear new-build projects in the UK and overseas.

Norman Addison, managing director of Bendalls, said:“Hinkley Point will be the first of a new generation of UK nuclear power plants. There are still hurdles to overcome before work can start.

“All we can say is that it should be in the next few years and it could be worth tens of millions of pounds.

“Areva were also talking about further opportunities, not only in the UK but also for export.”

Hinkley Point is one of six sites identified for nuclear new build. The others include Sellafield, where the NuGen consortium is expected to make a decision on whether to go ahead in 2015.

Areva/EDF is also planning to build at Sizewell in Suffolk.

Two of the obstacles to the Hinkley Point scheme have already been cleared.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation awarded a site licence to Areva/EDF last month and regulators have just approved the reactor design as safe and environmentally sound. However, planning permission is still required.

A final decision on whether to invest is likely to come next year.

Mr Addison said it was too early to say how many pressure vessels Bendalls would manufacture.

The steel vessels will be up to 20 metres long and weigh as much as 100 tonnes. They will be built at Kingstown and transported by road to Somerset.

Bendalls has been supplying the UK nuclear industry for almost 50 years.

Mr Addison said: “The work we have been doing for Sellafield over recent years has increased our capability to a level that enables us to quote for these new nuclear situations. It enhances our capability and quality of manufacture.”

The orders may create more jobs at Bendalls. The company currently has 75 staff. Mr Addison said: “Potentially it could create more employment although it’s difficult to say at this stage. We have nine apprentices coming through. They will be working on this.”

Areva puts the total value of the work covered by the agreements it has signed at £400m.

The memoranda of understanding were signed in London on Wednesday at an event attended by Business Minister Lord Marland.

Philippe Knoche, Areva’s chief operating officer, said: “Areva is delighted to take part in the re-birth of the UK nuclear new-build industry.

“We are committed to making as much use as possible of the UK’s excellent engineering skills and to develop these skills further.”

Bendalls began as a family-run steel-fabricating business in 1894. It became part of Carr’s Milling Industries in 1996 and in 2005 left its constricted base in London Road, Carlisle, for a new 50,000sq ft factory and HQ at Kingstown.

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