Published: September 11, 2012
EDF Energy unveils £100million of community funding for Somerset

Burnham-On-Sea could be set to receive community funding from EDF Energy after the firm this week signed an agreement with local councils to deliver nearly £100 million for local communities to mitigate the impact of its proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C.

EDF hailed the 'breakthrough settlement' on Tuesday, saying that the deal with West Somerset, Sedgemoor District and Somerset County Council resolves all the councils' principal issues relating to the application to build the new power station.

It follows months of detailed discussions on how best to reduce the impact of the development on the local community.

Within the section 106 agreement, more than £64 million will be spent on supporting local communities and services such as education, training, transport and housing. This is in addition to about £30 million committed by EDF Energy earlier this year in relation to site preparation works.

Subject to development consent from the Secretary of State, the new investment package, which includes financial payments and contingency funds, will pay for a range of measures for communities most affected by the development.

The measures include up to £8.5 million for a housing fund to mitigate potential impacts on the local housing market, including the refurbishment of local properties. There will also be £12.8 million as the balance of a £20 million community fund for measures to enhance the quality of life in local communities.

The £12.8 million will be independently administered by the Somerset Community Foundation, with council, community and EDF Energy representation on the awarding panel.

Nearly £16 million will be spent on a variety of highway improvement schemes, particularly in and around Bridgwater, to ease traffic and enhance road safety.

And over £7.1 million will be spent on improving local skills and training, including a final £2 million installment for the Energy Skills Centre at Bridgwater College.

There will also be £4.6 million for community safety measures, £5.5 million to support economic development and tourism initiatives, over £3 million to support local education provision and provide extra school places, almost £1 million to support local health services, £300,000 for local heritage, £350,000 to pay for landscape and visual improvements, over £440,000 to support improvements to public rights of way, £865,000 for environmental measures and more than £3.6 million to provide additional resources to the local authorities so that they can monitor and ensure the successful implementation of the development and continue to work closely with local communities.

Vincent de Rivaz, EDF Energy's Chief Executive, said: "This is a landmark agreement for the people of Somerset and for the project. It provides a strong springboard for success. During three years of consultation, we have worked very closely with the local authorities and other groups to identify and mitigate the impact of our proposals. I am delighted that we have agreed a targeted investment programme that will support local communities."

"It heralds a new phase in the Hinkley project and is another important stepping stone ahead of our final investment decision. We look forward to moving ahead in partnership and realising the many opportunities that this important development will deliver, locally and for the nation."

Sedgemoor Council Leader Cllr Duncan McGinty said: "Now the planning process is in its final stages, and we have reached agreement with EDF Energy on the best way forward should consent be granted, all our energies must go into making this a development of which the country and our communities can be proud. This will be a huge project that has the ability to shape and change the nature of the local economy so our role will be to work with EDF to make sure our expectations are fulfilled."

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, added: "The Councils have worked extremely hard with EDF to minimise any negative impacts that may arise for the community, local businesses and the environment should the development go ahead. Very good progress has been made and with the benefit of the additional measures that EDF will now be putting in place we believe the project will be acceptable should the Secretary of State grant consent."

The new investment package is subject to planning consent and a final investment decision on the Hinkley Point C project by the end of this year.

Pictured: Top, Bridgwater College's Energy Skills Centre student Callum James shows EDF Energy's team and local councillors where some of the £94m of investment is being used to help Somerset prepare for the planned new power station.


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