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Wed May 29 2024

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EDF agrees £100m sweetener for Somerset councillors

12 Sep 12 Local politicians in Somerset have managed to extract £100m for their pet projects from EDF Energy as the price of their support for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C.

The deal follows months of negotiations about how EDF could soften the impact of the development on the local community.

The pork barrel deal between EDF Energy, West Somerset, Sedgemoor District and Somerset County Councils – made legal by Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 – gives the councils £64m to spend on their local services such as education, training, transport and housing.  This is in addition to £30m previously committed by EDF Energy earlier this year in relation to site preparation works.

A £20m community fund will be spent on ‘quality of life’ initiatives. Of this, £8.5m will go on housing repairs and £12.8m will be administered by the Somerset Community Foundation.

Close to £16m will go on highway improvement schemes, much of it in and around Bridgwater.

More than £7m will go on training, including a final £2m instalment for the Energy Skills Centre at Bridgwater College.

There will be £4.6m towards ‘community safety measures’ and £5.5m on economic development and tourism initiatives.

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Local schools will share £3m and local health services will get £1m.

There are additional barrels of cash for local heritage schemes, landscaping and footpaths.

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz described the payments as “a strong springboard for success”, adding: “I am delighted that we have agreed a targeted investment programme that will support local communities.”

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

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “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 leader of West Somerset Council, Cllr Tim Taylor, said: “I am particularly pleased that we have secured over £500k to support West Somerset’s tourist industry, more than £1m to bolster businesses within our district, over £2m to improve skills and training initiatives, including £1.6m towards West Somerset Community College, and the ability to access to over £5m of housing contributions to help meet one of the council’s top objectives. We are now focusing all our energy on ensuring long-lasting and positive legacy for West Somerset, should consent be granted by the secretary of state next year.”

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