Green light for Hinkley C despite protests

Energy giant EDF has won approval to start work on what would be the first nuclear power station built in the UK for 20 years, despite protests from local campaigners.

West Somerset District Council approved preparatory works for Hinkley Point C, which could create up to 500 jobs yesterday.

And, today (July 29) EDF will submit applications for a Nuclear Site Licence and for environmental permits needed for operating a nuclear power station.

Following the council’s ruling, which has been branded ‘jumping the gun’ by anti-nuclear campaigners, EDF can begin the clearance of most vegetation, hedges and trees from a 420 acre site, but will have to pay more than £25 million to cover measures to mitigate the impact of the project.

It also allows for the excavation of more than 2 million cubic metres of soil and rocks, the re-routing of underground streams, the creation of roads and roundabouts, major changes to the landscape and the start of deep excavations for the power station foundations.

Stop Hinkley spokesman, Crispin Aubrey, said: “This is like giving a developer permission to excavate a greenfield site even before they have permission to build the actual houses.

“What will those councillors say to the people of West Somerset in two years’ time, with massive holes in the ground lined with concrete and a devastated wasteland – no trees, no hedges, no wildlife – and EDF says ‘Sorry, we don’t think it’s worth going ahead’.”

However, EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said the decision ‘demonstrates real progress’.

He said: “As a result of steps taken by Parliament and the local authority, EDF Energy is able to take immediate action to move the project forward significantly.

“These are significant milestones. They demonstrate that we are progressing and delivering, while we also carry out the work to incorporate learnings from Japan and from our other new build projects internationally.”

EDF expects to submit its Development Consent Order for the power station to the Infrastructure Planning Commission later this year.

Luke Walsh

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