The family of a man who took his own life while working as a coach driver ferrying workers to the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant site has called for more support for thousands of workers living far from home on such projects. Kevin Ward, 57, was found hanged in a caravan on a camping site close to the power station project on the Somerset coast, where he lived alone. His family said he found it difficult to find the time to make it back to Essex, where his two children and four grandchildren live. The Guardian has recently highlighted deep concerns about the mental health of people working at major building projects such as Hinkley Point. Union leaders say there has been a surge this year in suicide attempts among the 4,000-plus workers at the site, Britain’s largest construction project since the second world war.
Guardian 27th Aug 2019 read more »
Letter Prof Steve Thomas: The decision to review HS2 is a welcome indication that the government is not afraid to kill off projects that have gone off the rails. Its costs are escalating out of control such that it can never recover its investment. It does not address the need for much more rail capacity to relieve chronic congestion and take cars off the road, not to transport relatively few businesspeople rapidly at high prices. A review of the Hinkley Point C nuclear project – also with costs out of control and unable to meet the need for low-cost, low-carbon electricity – should be carried out. The money already spent on these mega-projects is irrelevant to decision-making. The issues are whether the remaining cost can be recovered and whether the estimates of the remaining costs are reliable. The money spent cannot be recovered and, galling as this waste of public money would be, it has to be written off if carrying on would be throwing good money after bad. The estimate for HS2 is £55.6bn compared to the original budget of £32bn with £7.4bn already spent. The 2017 estimate for Hinkley was £20bn compared to the 2012 estimates of £12bn. It is not clear how much EDF has spent to date but given that construction on the first reactor started in December 2018, it can only be a small fraction of the total cost, and an even smaller fraction of the £50bn that Hinkley will add to consumer bills over its lifetime.
Guardian 25th Aug 2019 read more »