HINKLEY Point B power station is to continue operating until 2023 after it was granted an extension to its license, it was announced this morning.

The nuclear plant, on the Somerset coastline, had been due to stop operating in 2016 but will now continue for a further seven years.

Site operator EDF Energy has applied to build a third power station at the site, Hinkley Point C, with a decision from planners expected in the new year.

EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “This decision will bring significant benefits to the community in terms of jobs and additional economic activity.

"Our nuclear generation business provides work for more than 300 companies in the supply chain and around 90% of our total £650m annual spend in the supply chain goes to British companies.

“In addition it will provide further opportunities for training of a new generation of nuclear engineers as we seek to develop the UK’s position as a primary source for skills and expertise in the industry.

"Locally we are well advanced in our plans for a new nuclear power station that will place Somerset at the heart of the low carbon future for the UK.”

Mike Harrison, Hinkley Point B’s station director, said: "This is great news for all of us at Hinkley Point B and for everyone in the local community.

"The decision means we can continue to provide highly skilled jobs and bring major investment to the area.

"It shows EDF Energy recognises the professionalism and commitment of our staff in safely supplying low carbon electricity for more than 36 years."

Hinkley Point B employs around 535 full time staff, including 44 apprentices, as well as 220 full time staff from contract partners.

The station has produced around 250 terawatt hours (TWh) of generation since first supplying the National Grid in February 1976.