Councils voice reservations on Hinkley Point consultation

The promoters of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station could have done more to involve local people in debate over the project, councils in the area have concluded.

In a joint report submitted to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor and West Somerset District Councils agreed that EDF Energy generally carried out the consultation activities promised before lodging its development consent order last month.

However, they said the energy company could have done more to engage with hard-to-reach groups in Bridgwater. They also voiced concern about the quality of some information presented for consultation and a lack of detailed evidence on some topics.

David Hall, Somerset’s cabinet member for economic development, said: "On the whole, we believe EDF has carried out its consultation by following the necessary rules and regulations set out by government.

"That said, we do have some concerns, particularly regarding the lack of detailed information around transport proposals. We would encourage EDF to continue to engage with residents through the next phase of the process."

The councils’ comments will be taken into account by the IPC in deciding whether to accept EDF’s application for examination. The government body has until 29 November to announce its verdict.

West Somerset Council’s planning manager Andrew Goodchild said: "We have worked together to review all the information in very tight timescales, as we only had 14 days in which to respond to the IPC. We will have to wait until the end of the month to see if the application is validated."

An EDF spokesman said the company is unable to comment until the IPC announces its decision on whether to accept the development consent application. However, its website notes that four separate stages of consultation were carried out between November 2009 and August this year.

The programme included 34 public exhibitions, 67 meetings with local authorities and direct engagement with 6,500 consultees. The company's consultation report runs to 10,000 pages.

 


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