EDF bolsters comms to underpin nuclear plans

Energy firm brings in Pagefield to help argue case for extra nuclear reactor at Sizewell.

EDF Energy has brought in agency support to strengthen its case for building a controversial third nuclear reactor at Sizewell.

The French energy firm and Olympic sponsor has appointed Pagefield to handle strategic comms around the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power reactor in Suffolk. The appointment comes after a six-way pitch.

Pagefield is expected to play a key role in the development of EDF's narrative around the value of a new nuclear power reactor, liaising with the public, media and stakeholders such as the Environment Agency and local authorities.

The case for investment in nuclear energy in the UK was dealt a significant blow by the devastation seen after last year's Fukushima nuclear leak in Japan. The Sizewell B reactor itself has also attracted periodic concerns after a number of safety shutdowns in recent years (see box).

Pagefield partner Wendy Blair admitted safety would be a key element of the consultation. 'During our planned consultation it will be understandable if some people are interested in safety, but other issues are also likely to attract attention,' she added.

Overall account management will be handled by Blair, who has formerly worked on the London 2012 Legacy infrastructure project. Agency founder Mark Gallagher, a former ITV and Camelot Group corporate affairs director, will provide senior-level strategic counsel.

The six-figure account was won last month, after a pitch process thought to have been initiated as long as a year ago. It is believed that the agency pitched against PPS Group, which handled EDF's nuclear application for the Hinkley Point site.

EDF currently uses MHP for public affairs and Brunswick for corporate comms, while Weber Shandwick is retained for consumer PR. None of these accounts is affected.

SIZEWELL A, B AND C

Sizewell A, commissioned in 1966, is now in the process of being decommissioned.

Sizewell B has attracted concerns over leaked cooling water and a fire in 2010. In March 2012, Sizewell B had an unplanned shutdown due to an electrical fault.

In 2009, EDF Energy nominated an area of land for Sizewell C. In 2011, the Government confirmed the site was potentially suitable.

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