250 nuclear jobs cut in drive to save £25m

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The Independent Online

British Energy today said it would cut a total of 250 jobs from its UK operations as part of an effort to save the privatised nuclear power company £25 million a year.

British Energy today said it would cut a total of 250 jobs from its UK operations as part of an effort to save the privatised nuclear power company £25 million a year.

Chief executive Peter Hollins said the company had decided to shed an extra 170 jobs on top of 80 job cuts announced earlier this year during the first stage of its business review.

All the job losses would come from voluntary redundancies and people taking early retirement from the company's human resources, finance, general administration and public relations divisions during the next two years.

Mr Hollins said workers were informed of the job cuts, which will come from across the company's eight UK power stations and IT support services, last Friday.

Mr Hollins said the cuts would make up about half of the £25 million British Energy expected to save through a range of efficiency improvements throughout the company.

News of the job cuts came as the company unveiled a 20% jump in first half pre-tax profits before exceptionals to £55 million in the six months to September 30, up from £46 million at the same time last year.

However, a host of exceptional charges totalling £11 million pushed the total profit before tax figure down to £45 million.

Turnover fell to £913 million from £935 million and power output fell by 4% following a number of technical problems, including a faulty rotor at the group's Heysham 2 plant, near Lancaster.

The earnings figures included the first contributions from the group's newly acquired North American joint venture with PECO Energy, AmerGen, which is close to buying the Three Mile Island-1 plant and agreed terms on another five deals.

The group also had its £105 million takeover of South Wales Electricity (Swalec) cleared in September by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Mr Hollins said the company would focus on increasing its power output during the second half of its financial year and was on the look out for more acquisitions in the UK and North America.

"Swalec will be developed and we are interested in acquiring another UK power company at the moment," he said.

"The US was also an obvious place for us to go looking for further operations and in Ontario in Canada where they have indicated that their nuclear plant has been put up for sale. We will be pursuing that."

Investors will receive an interim dividend of 5.7p, up from 5.3p last year.

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