Point cash row halts district council's tax-setting meeting
may have been Valentines Day, but there was no love on show between
Sedgemoor District Council and power firm EDF on Tuesday (February
14th) when a dispute broke out between the two over the costs
of Hinkley Point's planned expansion.
The district council adjourned its annual meeting to set council
tax rates for the coming year amid "major concerns"
about its ability to continue to carry out vital work in scrutinising
EDFs application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission
for a £10bn new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point.
The council says the scrutiny is fundamental to make sure that
the interests of the residents who will bear the impacts of the
development are fairly and properly represented.
"Sedgemoor District Council is adamant that local council
taxpayers money should not be used to carry out this work,
as the project is of national benefit and importance and is being
built by a commercial, profit-making company," a council
spokeswoman told Burnham-On-Sea.com.
"It is estimated that very large sums of money will be needed
to carry out this work and SDC are not willing to set their council
tax without this amount being agreed upon. EDF have previously
funded this work but have not confirmed so far the amount for
the next stage despite ongoing negotiations with the council over
council has postponed its tax setting meeting until Friday, 24th
February at 2.30pm in the hope that a deal can be successfully
Leader of Council, Councillor Duncan McGinty, told Burnham-On-Sea.com:
"It is entirely improper that we use extremely scarce public
money to fund the development process relating to a privately
owned commercial asset of a company which is expected to reveal
profits of £3.8bn later this week."
He added: "The IPC will be expecting to see properly researched
evidence from the councils as to information contained in EDFs
application and we are not prepared to pay for this from local
"This is a core business for EDF, who will be spending many
millions on their application. They will also be buying in the
best legal and technical advice as they need. We need to be able
to properly challenge their claims and this does not come cheap
given the resources they have put behind their own professional
The £2million contribution required by the council covers
the costs that will be incurred by both Sedgemoor and West Somerset
Councils as well as some of those incurred by the county.
The funds are needed for researching, producing evidence and
presenting arguments for the various issues that local communities
have said are important to them such as housing, transport, community
safety, leisure and the environment.
Energy's Gordon Bell defended the power firm's actions, responding:
"Over the past two and a half years, EDF Energy has voluntarily
provided more than £13 million to three local councils -
Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council and Sedgemoor District
Council - to allow them and their consultants to scrutinise the
proposals for Hinkley Point C. Of this total, £9.8 million
has been received by Sedgemoor District Council."
"This has ensured that Council budgets have not been affected
by the Hinkley Point C project. Further, we are voluntarily committing
to continue to fund the reasonable costs incurred by the local
authorities during the IPC process. We had further discussions
today with Sedgemoor District Council to reiterate our commitment."
"As a result, the councils will have funding from us to
carry out all reasonable work as part of this process, without
need to impact council budgets. Of course we also have a duty
to our customers to keep their bills to a minimum, and so cannot
fund work beyond what is reasonably required of the councils in
the IPC process."
"Our project will bring substantial economic benefit to
the area, including £100 m per year at peak construction
and £40 million per year during operation."