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Work continues at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset but workforce cut by half

Thousands of workers are still clocking in at Europe's biggest construction site despite strict government measures. Credit: ITV News West Country

Thousands of workers are still making the journey to the Hinkley Point C building project near Bridgwater but the workforce is set to be halved to around 2,000.

Watch Rupert Evelyn's ITV News report:

The beaches of Somerset are deserted as the warning to stay at home appears to have been heeded but on the Bristol Channel coast thousands of people are still clocking in to work at Europe's largest building site.

The Government has deemed the jobs at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station near Bridgwater to be essential and French energy giant EDF says that it is "a project of critical national importance".

The number of construction workers will now be reduced by more than half to around 2,000 to mitigate the coronavirus risk and bosses have pledged to reduce staffing levels further as the project progresses.

4,700
The size of the full time workforce at Hinkley Point C.
2,000
The workforce is being scaled back by more than half.

But critics and opponents have rounded on the decision to carry on and have called on the Government to halt proceedings.

This is putting lives at risk right across Somerset and the whole of the country. Why hasn't the Prime Minister ordered them to stay at home - is he just pandering to the nuclear lobby? While the rest of the country is in lockdown, EDF fails to acknowledge that if someone has developed a fever, they have been incubating and spreading the virus for days beforehand.

– Katy Attwater, Stop Hinkley campaign spokeswoman
Hinkley Point C workers travel to and from the site on buses at close proximity to each other.

Workers have been photographed close to each other in the canteen and sitting shoulder to shoulder on the buses which transport them to and from the site.

This is at odds with Government advice to socially distance.

Construction workers are pictured seated at close quarters in the canteen

They need to put something else in place. They need to consider their workers. If there is an outbreak at Hinkley Point then it would be uncontrollable. Our NHS system here in the South West is quite small compared to big cities.

– Wife of construction worker (anonymous)
Hinkley Point C is estimated to cost £22.5 billion to construct and is expected to begin generating power by the end of 2025. Credit: PA

EDF said a series of measures would be adopted that would involve split shift working and staggered breaks, while fewer staff would allow easier social distancing in operational areas and in the canteen.

Steps already in place include shutting our Bristol head office, working from home for those that can, temperature checks on people entering the site, extra cleaning, changes in movement patterns, closure of bars and gyms.

– EDF
French energy firm EDF says the Credit: ITV News