Energy giant EDF is set to relocate more than 1,000 nuclear scientists, engineers and support staff from its site in Barnwood to new facilities in nearby Gloucester Business Park, in a move that will see employees adopt a mixture of home and office-based working.
The firm said the decision to move from the 22-acre site to the east of Gloucester was part of a longer-term strategy, as the UK reduces its number of operating nuclear power stations – providing 15-20% of the country’s power – from eight to just two by 2030. The remaining plants will be Hinkley Point C in Brigwater, Somerset, and Sizewell B in Suffolk.
In April, EDF agreed a £7.6m partnership deal with the University of Bristol to develop new ways of assessing the condition of nuclear power stations in a bid to help the Government meet its net-zero targets
The company said that recent surveys of its Gloucestershire staff, who have been working from home during the pandemic, found the majority wanted to come into the office no more than two to three days a week, significantly reducing its need for space.
The planned move to Javelin House, and buildings at Charlton Court and Valiant Court on Gloucester Business Park, around two miles away from Barnwood, will begin in mid-2022.
EDF said in an announcement to staff on Wednesday that the Barnwood was now “too big for what we need” and the move to the new facilities would reduce “major long-term costs” and environmental impact of operating from its current site.
David Tomblin, finance director at EDF, said the move was contingent on securing planning permissions for staff parking and external works at Gloucester Business Park.
Mr Tomblin said: “Our business will change significantly in the next few years as several of the existing fleet of nuclear power stations move into decommissioning, our facility at Hinkley Point C prepares to come online and we continue to adapt to the different ways of working explored over the last year.
“We have been considering a move from Barnwood for some time but have been waiting for the right facilities in the right place. The spaces at Gloucester Business Park offer us the more appropriate, high quality modern work environment that our workforce needs.”
The Barnwood site, which has been the UK’s technical headquarters for nuclear power since the 1970s, includes a main office building, garages, a data storage site, a stores building, a lecture theatre complex and the Nuclear Power Academy, as well as a number of other buildings.
Gloucester City Council will take a decision on the future use of the Barnwood site, which is subject to planning permission, in due course.
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EDF said that relocating its key technical Gloucestershire headquarters would help consolidate a “nuclear skills corridor” allowing for closer collaboration with its new engineering design centre on the edge of Bristol and Hinkley Point C.
Teams working from EDF’s new base at Gloucester Business Park will provide technical support for work on its existing nuclear fleet and future projects, including the planning of Sizewell C in Suffolk, which is being developed as a replica of Hinkley Point C.
EDF hopes that when finished Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C will provide low carbon electricity to meet 14% of UK demand and power around 12 million homes.