MP Ian Liddell-Grainger: Hinkley Point neighbours must get lasting financial benefit
A new nuclear power station in Somerset should retain £4 million business rates a year to provide a legacy for local people, MPs heard last night.
Bridgwater & West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said if necessary he would try to change the law to ensure lasting benefits for people living near Hinkley Point.
The Daily Press revealed last week how an additional £64 million will be spent on helping the local community for housing, transport, education and training.
The cash was agreed by EDF Energy and Somerset councils, on top of around £30 million pledged earlier this year for site preparation works, and is subject to planning consent for Hinkley C.
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But Mr Liddell-Grainger told the Commons that money specifically related to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act, meaning developers contribute to easing the disruption their projects cause, but is not designed to deal with the legacy.
The Tory MP said nuclear power was the only viable option for bridging the national energy crisis the nation would face in the future.
“Hinkley’s construction must come at a price – we need a real commitment from the Government that community benefits are not going to be an afterthought.”
He said a precedent was set at the Shetland Islands 40 years ago when oil was struck, and a special Act of Parliament was passed.
“Every barrel of crude oil that has come ashore ever since involves a payment from the oil companies from a special fund to benefit the area.”
“When Hinkley is ready for operations the rateable value of what they do is likely to be in the order of £10 million a year. That money will go straight to the Treasury under the system that is currently in force.
“That is unfair to Bridgwater and West Somerset, its councils and its residents. We will all have to learn to live with Hinkley. So will our children and grandchildren. We deserve better than nothing.” Mr Liddell-Grainger also warned that even if ministers agree to let local people keep a slice of the business rates, there was another tangled mess to sort out. The rules said West Somerset should get the whole lot, as Hinkley was just inside its boundary, but Sedgemoor would suffer the bulk of the disruption from heavy traffic.
“Sedgemoor Council and EDF believe that business rates should be split in proper recognition of the effect of the project on both communities,” he said.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said retaining £4 million of the £10 million of business rates would be reasonable.
Mr Liddell-Grainger’s questions were due to be answered by new Energy Minister John Hayes.