BLACKBURN nuclear engineering firm Assystem have announced the appointment of a new UK business development director, just as the company prepares work on some of its most vital projects to date.

Simon Barber will be joining the company, the second largest nuclear engineering company in the world, bringing a wealth of experience from the nuclear industry and from other sectors.

He has previously worked with Rolls-Royce during the early stages of their small modular reactor development and with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, helping them to develop the STEP fusion programme.

Assystem managing director Peter Higton said: “Simon joins us at a pivotal time in our growth in the UK, as we are ready to capitalise on the exciting developments ahead for the energy sector, by bringing the right skills, knowledge and people to support the innovative, low carbon technology projects in the UK today.”

Mr Barber’s new role will see him take charge of delivering Assystem’s strategic aims in the UK, which the company hopes will help to secure their status as a key player in the nuclear industry.

Headquartered in Blackburn, the firm has been a crucial participant in the nuclear industry for over 50 years.

Assystem employs 6,000 people in 15 countries worldwide and in 2019 recorded revenues close to €500 million, operating across the clean energy, power generation, pharma, environment, infrastructure and strategic infrastructure markets.

It also provides engineering services to design, build, commission, maintain and dismantle infrastructures across the nuclear, life sciences, transportation, industry and defence sector.

Mr Barber’s appointment comes at a critical time for the company with a new partnership with the Northern Nuclear Alliance announced only last August that it hopes will support thousands of jobs across the North of England.

Company directors say that this will create new opportunities for growth, with potentially hundreds of new jobs created at Assystem itself and thousands more in the wider industry.

They claim that such opportunities could increase dramatically if government approval is granted to projects such as Sizewell C, the Moorside Clean Energy Hub and to the northern-centred Rolls-Royce UK Small Modular Reactor programme.

There will be another huge task lying ahead for Mr Barber, with his new employers contracted to work on the construction of Hinckley Point C nuclear power station with jobs created across advanced engineering, site engineering, commissioning, quality assurance and control.

Mr Higton said: “The development of new nuclear power at Hinkley Point C is an exciting project that represents the next chapter of nuclear power in the UK.

“The development of Hinkley Point C will be vital in delivering low carbon electricity for generations to come, as well as creating jobs here in the North-West and across the whole of the UK and its success is pivotal for further programmes to develop, such as Sizewell C.”

Mr Barber will help lead the company as it takes these challenges on.