Hinkley preparation work approved

Hinkley protest outside Williton council offices 28 July 2011 A protest by campaign group Stop Hinkley was held ahead of the meeting in Williton

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Preparatory works for the proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point will go ahead, after councillors voted in favour of the application.

Energy firm EDF applied for planning permission from West Somerset Council to clear a valley to the west of the existing nuclear power station.

Bridgwater and West Somerset colleges have said it will create jobs and help develop a skilled workforce.

Those against the plans fear the works will ruin the countryside.

The application is separate to the that for the new nuclear power station itself - this will be decided by the government later in the year.

Vincent de Rivaz, EDF Energy's chief executive, said the company was now able to "take immediate action to move the project forward significantly".

He said applications for a Nuclear Site Licence and environmental permits would be submitted on Friday.

"These are significant milestones," he added.

"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."

Traffic fears

Out of the 12 councillors who voted, there was one objection on the grounds no bypass had been planned for the village of Cannington near to Hinkley Point as part of this application.

However the Cannington bypass has been included in the plans for the power station itself.

Traffic studies by the county council have shown there will be about one HGV lorry going through Cannington every minute.

Conservative councillor Anthony Trollope-Bellew, who voted against the proposals, said: "I'll let history be the judge of it, we'll see what happens in Bridgwater and Cannington in the next few years."

Ahead of the meeting about 30 people demonstrated outside the West Somerset Council offices in Williton.

Earlier in the meeting, EDF Energy said the preparation work would bring the completion of Hinkley C forward by one year and would create around 500 jobs from preparation works alone, most of which will be for local people.

'Outrageous'

The local authority has received nearly 500 letters about the 371-page planning report about the preparatory works.

Around two-thirds were against the plans and about 100 were in support, the council said.

Roy Pumfrey, a member of Save Cannington Action Group and Stop Hinkley, said: "It's absolutely outrageous that EDF are going to flatten 400 acres of countryside in advance of preliminary works for the station, without any planning permission for the nuclear power station itself."

The conditions attached involve environmental measures to minimise land contamination during the deep excavation works, and to minimise disruption such as traffic and noise caused by the build.

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