Published: September 6, 2011
Burnham and Highbridge councillors raise fresh Hinkley fears

Town councillors have this week raised fresh concerns about the impact that the multi-billion pound expansion of Hinkley Point will have on Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge.

At a meeting last night (Monday, September 5th), they quizzed Paul Wheatley, Sedgemoor District Council's Policy Officer, on some of the potential traffic, infrastructure and housing issues that may result from the massive construction project.

Mr Wheatley tried to reassure them that the district council is putting pressure on EDF Energy not to forget the Burnham-On-Sea area in its planning of the huge project.

Cllr Chris Williams raised fears about construction traffic thundering through Highbridge along the A38 during the scheduled eight-year building work.

"It's a concern that construction vehicles may travel through residential areas - have we got an assurance from EDF that no Hinkley construction traffic will pass along the A38?"

Mr Wheatley was unable to give any guarantees: "I am unable to give a full assurance, but strict requirements are being put in place to restrict vehicle movements."

Cllr Helen Groves expressed concerns about the lack of extra infrastructure for the expected influx of thousands of extra Hinkley Point workers in the area.

"Sedgemoor's Local Development Framework has factored in an increase of people, but Burnham and Highbridge's existing infrastructure won't support a big expansion in population," said Cllr Groves. "There needs to be more investment in local services."

Mr Wheatley agreed, saying: "At Sedgemoor District Council we do recognise this and are continuing to stress to EDF that their strategy must consider the short, medium and long-term impact on services like drains, roads and utilities."

Cllr Ken Smout said he is concerned about the unclear schedule surrounding the Hinkley Point proposals, adding: "We've never seen a timeline that clearly shows when the work will start to impact Burnham and Highbridge."

Again, Mr Wheatley agreed, saying: "We have never received a detailed breakdown from EDF Energy for the work it is planning. EDF have not been forthcoming at all, but we continue to keep up the pressure for timings."

Cllr Neville Jones said at Monday's meeting he is disappointed that the previously-considered proposals for a park and ride facility for Hinkley staff at Burnham's junction 22 of the M5 now appear to be "a dead duck."

He added: "I have recently been told that EDF expects Hinkley workers to be travelling from towns such as Weston and Clevedon, so Burnham is ideally positioned for such facilities."

"No-one should be looking at Hinkley in isolation. There will be plenty of other big construction projects in Bridgwater underway at the same time that will add more pressure onto junction 23 where the parking facilities are planned. There will be building work for a new hospital, a new swimming pool, two new schools and 2,000 homes. It makes our case for junction 22 even more imperative."

But Mr Wheatley said he did not believe any proposals for extra parking facilities for EDF staff in Burnham.

In March, Sedgemoor District Council expressed a number of concerns about the Hinkley Point expansion, as reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com here.

If the proposed new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point are given the final go-ahead by the government, EDF says enough power for around five million homes or six per cent of the UK's total power supply will be generated.

 


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