SME businesses looking to benefit from the development of the Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey are being encouraged not to be put off by the scale of the project and to get the right legal advice so that they can maximise opportunities from the £15 billion investment.
Once work starts, the project will bring with it an influx of workers and SME suppliers all of whom will need adequate infrastructure such as housing, office space and transportation. The project will also increase demand for a host of other services such as caterers, taxi services and guest houses.
However, the remote location of the power station on the North West tip of the Welsh Island means that resources to build not only the power station but also provide the supporting services are limited and means opportunities will arise for local as well as businesses from outside the region.
Legal experts from Clarke Willmott LLP, who have worked for years on the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, believe that businesses which already operate in the area shouldn’t be put off tendering for contracts because they think they are too small.
Instead they are advising they become ‘nuclear ready’ and explore joint ventures (JVs) with other businesses so they can provide the required manpower and skills once the power station’s owners, Horizon, start the tender process.
Zoe Stollard, a construction partner at Clarke Willmott and who has advised on a host of Hinkley Point C matters said:
“The development of Wylfa is great news for the local and regional economy. We’ve seen the impact Hinkley Point C has had on the South West economy and the same will be true for North Wales.
“For Wylfa, the net will have to be cast far and wide in order to attract the right numbers and skills needed to build the two new reactors and will stretch across to Manchester, Liverpool, Stoke and possibly down to Birmingham. That’s the scale of what lies ahead.
“The result will mean local suppliers will be needed to put in place the correct infrastructure in terms of housing, transport and work space, plus the everyday things needed to support the transient population that will be working on site.”
Zoe, who is a member of Clarke Willmott’s cross-disciplinary team has advised on Hinkley Point C related matters such as the supply contracts (NEC3) between EDF and SPS, FACE and HOST and their consortia members.
“We’ve represented many businesses linked to the Hinkley project in Somerset who successfully tendered for work. Our advice to those who are now considering making the most of the Wylfa project is to get on board those who understand the intricacies of the nuclear construction sector.
“We’ve set up various joint venture companies and give ongoing advice relating to corporate and financial issues as and when they arise. For many businesses we act more like an ‘in-house’ counsel.
“The biggest opportunities for local businesses will be in supplying the site services contracts. The list is quite huge and will include almost every conceivable service you can think of from florists to mechanics.
“Coming together under a JV structure will allow local businesses to collectively tender for opportunities that would otherwise be picked up by national operators.
“Horizon will want to demonstrate the positive economic ‘knock-on’ effect the development of Wylfa will have on the area’s businesses. This is where great opportunities lie in wait for those enthusiastic and diligent businesses keen to make the most of what will be a huge boost for the North Wales economy.”