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Development in Somerset creates jobs and builds local spirit

By Cecily Liu in London | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-12 07:56
Bus driver Kieran Kelly grew up hearing stories of his father's journey from Ireland to Somerset to construct the Hinkley Point A nuclear power station in the 1950s.

When a job opportunity became available at the Hinkley Point C project decades later, he jumped at the chance.

Kelly, 51, speaking at the busy construction site on the Bristol Channel coastline, is full of pride when he talks about his work and his family's involvement.

While he ferries visitors to the flagship Hinkley Point C site, his 29-year old daughter, Amy, drives one of the project's 100-metric-ton dump trucks. "Hinkley Point C brought so much liveliness and many new jobs to the local community," Kelly said, pointing to the trucks in the far distance across the massive field of scoured land the size of 145 soccer pitches.

"I'm so proud of my daughter Amy. The amount of training she got to be able to drive a 100-ton dump truck was amazing," Kelly said. "Her employer has invested in helping her learn new skills."

The 18-billion-pound ($23.2 billion) nuclear power station is being led by France's Electricite de France SA, or EDF, along with China General Nuclear Power Corp.

Scheduled for completion in 2025, the project will create 25,000 jobs.

As well as working at the site, Kelly is also enjoying additional income from seven project employees who rent rooms at his family home. "They're great people, we've become friends," he said.

Linda van Harn, 62, a local Somerset resident, leads a weekly tour of the site. Each trip involves around 30 visitors and lasts about two hours.

"Mostly the visitors are British residents who have heard so much about Hinkley and just want to see it for themselves, but we also receive tourists from all over the world," van Harn said.

"Our visitors are always really impressed by what they see, and it's a joy for me to show them around," she added.

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