EDF Energy are building two nuclear reactors, known as Hinkley Point C, at Hinkley Point on the West Somerset Coast. These are the first nuclear reactors to be built in the UK for 20 years and once in operation, will provide low carbon electricity for 6 million homes over a 60-year period. This represents approximately 7% of the UK’s electricity needs.
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While the project was in the early stages of design, Somerset Council and NNB GenCo (EDF Energy) signed a Planning Performance Agreement (PDF 720KB) which embodied the collective, overarching vision for the development.
The themes in the Agreement were refined during the planning process to form the ‘Dillington Vision (PDF 108KB)‘. They are a set of objectives focused on the following areas of economic development: education, employment and skills, a low carbon future, housing and community wellbeing – through which the maximum benefit from the nuclear development could be derived.
Site Preparation Works
Planning consent to prepare the site at Hinkley Point for the construction of the nuclear power plant was granted by Somerset Council through the Town and Country Planning Act process, on 27 January 2012.
Site preparation works concluded on 16 June 2016.
Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project
The construction of the nuclear power plant and the Associated Development is categorised as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). In contrast to the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) planning process, in which the Local Planning Authority is the decision-making body, planning applications for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects are made to the Planning Inspectorate, who appoint independent inspectors to carry out an examination.
Following the examination, a recommendation is made to the Secretary of State who will decide whether to grant or refuse permission. If permission is granted it will take the form of a Development Consent Order (DCO).
The Development Consent Order for the nuclear power plant and Associated Developments was granted on 19 March 2013, following an examination period during which the Council and many other organisations were consulted and engaged.
Local Planning Authorities, such as Somerset Council, are responsible for discharging the requirements contained within the Development Consent Order and carry out a monitoring and compliance role with regard to provisions set out in the Order. The Council ensures legal obligations are met and that management plans, which form part of the Development Consent Order application, are implemented and updated. The Council also has a role in change management and in enforcement.
For more information on decision making process for applications relating to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, visit National Infrastructure Planning – process.
Although the main site itself is located within West Somerset, its construction will be supported by a range of Associated Developments.
The Associated Development located within the Sedgemoor area are listed below:
- Sedgemoor Campus (accommodation), Bath Road, Bridgwater
- Park and Ride facilities at Cannington, Junctions 23 and 24 of the M5
- Cannington Bypass
- The refurbishment and extension of Combwich Wharf.
- Various road improvements including those at Taunton Road/Broadway, Bristol Road/The Drove, The Drove/Wylds Road, Bristol Road/Wylds Road and the roundabout at J23 of the M5.
Other sites in Sedgemoor also have a role to play but fall outside of the Development Consent Order process and are referred to as ‘ancillary sites’ in the Sedgemoor Local Plan. These include Cannington Court and temporary caravan parks, for example. Ancillary sites are subject to the Town and Country Planning Act processes, where relevant.
The Project's Potential
The construction project is expected to create 25,000 employment opportunities, including 1,000 apprenticeships and to contribute £1.5 billion to the local economy. During peak construction, it is estimated that approximately one third of the labour force will be drawn from the local population, but this figure will fluctuate throughout the construction period, depending on the skills required by the project. Furthermore, EDF Energy hope to assign up to 64% of the value of construction contracts to UK companies.
The Council and its partners are working to ensure that local people have the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to obtain work associated with the project and several state-of-the-art training facilities are now in operation. Sedgemoor is also the site of a number of commercial developments (in operation and development) which will enable the local supply chain to benefit from the opportunities associated with the nuclear development.
It is envisaged that the commercial developments, supported by a well skilled local workforce, will accelerate the move to a more dynamic and entrepreneurial low carbon economy, which will be sustainable long after the construction of the nuclear power plant. It is a key objective of the Council to ensure a legacy from the Hinkley Point C build and the Gravity Enterprise Zone represents a commercial site with the transformational opportunities to achieve this and create an exemplar of Clean Growth.
Section 106 Agreements
There will be a need to acquire a proportion of the labour force from outside the local area, which does have the potential to put pressure on existing accommodation, transport and service provision. These risks were identified in the Local Impact Report (2012) which was commissioned by Somerset Council. An executive summary of the Local Impact Report and the full report are available to read.
The risks identified by the report have been mitigated through funding provided by EDF Energy via Section 106 agreements, which enable the Council and its partners to support and implement a wide variety of projects. The S106 agreements can be found below: