Councils voice 'concerns' at nuclear power plant plans
Councils have penned a damning report on the local impact of building the country's first nuclear power station for 20 years in the West Country.
The three local authorities affected by plans to construct the Hinkley Point C twin reactor in Somerset said efforts by French company EDF Energy to protect the surrounding communities have been "insufficient".
The criticism comes after serious doubts were raised over the project when British company and joint partner Centrica threatened to pull out of the deal amid concerns over the Government's energy policy.
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Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council and West Somerset Council submitted a joint Local Impact Report to the Planning Inspectorate as the consultation process closed last week.
The three authorities support the project in principle and have worked with EDF to develop the plans but claim their advice has not been sufficiently integrated into the final application, particularly the impact on transport, local businesses and housing.
David Hall, Somerset County Council spokesman for economic development, said he welcomed the economic opportunities the scheme could bring to Somerset.
However, he added: "We still have some significant concerns in particular relating to the proposed transport mitigation and we are working hard to make sure these are resolved fairly and appropriately."
Enthusiasm for plans to usher in a new generation of nuclear plants has cooled since last year's Fukushima disaster, triggered by the tsunami in Japan.
Last month plans for the Wylfa B reactor on Anglesey, in Wales, were shelved by Horizon, a partnership of two German companies.
The coalition supports the new nuclear facilities but a concession secured from the Conservatives by the anti-nuclear Liberal Democrats means this must be done without any government help.
Investors say the Government needs to make clear what returns the companies investing huge sums in the technology can expect.
Of the ten planned, Hinkley Point C is the most advanced, winning planning permission to carry out site preparation works, last July.
A planning application was submitted to the Infrastructure Planning Commission last October and a decision is expected to be announced later this year.
Outgoing Conservative leader of Somerset County Council, Ken Maddock, who is chairman of the New Nuclear Local Authorities Group , said all eyes were now on Hinkley, which would form "a template" for the entire programme.