Western Daily Press, 6th June 2008

Energy giant EDF has announced plans to build a new nuclear power station in Somerset within the next 10 years, which would create thousands of jobs.

As reported in the Western Daily Press, the company has been buying up land surrounding the existing Hinkley B power station in readiness for the next stage of generating nuclear power in the UK.

And yesterday EDF confirmed it has already begun the process of building a third nuclear power station alongside the existing facility.

The mammoth project is expected to cost at least £2.5 billion and would create about 2,300 long and short- term jobs to build and then run the new plant.

Negotiations have been taking place with a number of landowners in the area for months and some of the land set aside for West Hinkley Wind Farm is included in the plans.

Building work is scheduled to start in 2012 and should take around five years to complete.

The scheme would be one of the biggest civil engineering projects in the region and would employ an estimated 2,000 contractors. Eventually about 300 people would be needed to run the plant.

According to the energy company the third generation reactor would produce enough power for 1.5 million homes and would have a life span of more than 50 years.

Reports indicate the company has set aside a budget of £25 billion to build nuclear sites in the UK .

EDF is the leading contender in the race to take control of British Energy - the current owner of the UK 's eight nuclear power stations, which include Hinkley B.

But even if EDF, which already employs about 2,500 in the region fails in its takeover, it will still press ahead.

A spokesman said: "We are looking at building four new nuclear power stations in the UK and have already identified the site at Hinkley and in North Wales .

"We have been holding talks with the local authorities involved and the first stage of the process in Somerset will be to carry out an archaeological and geological survey so we can be sure that the land is suitable for a nuclear reactor.

"There will also be a consultation process and we want to make sure that local people are involved in the whole process from the very outset.

"The Somerset site is big enough for one reactor - it's several tens of hectares. We are also looking into options for a wind farm to sit alongside the reactor. This is a long term project and we would not have invested all this time and money in it if we were not serious."

The current generation of nuclear reactors are nearing the end of their lifespan and EDF sees 2016 as a crucial year for the sector with coal- fired stations also coming to an end. EDF currently operates 58 nuclear power stations in France and will base the one to be built in Somerset on one that is already up and running on the Normandy peninsula at Flamanville.

Before construction work can begin a number of hurdles have to be cleared including the planning and consent process along with negotiations with national and local government.

But last week Gordon Brown publicly backed nuclear power as an alternative to oil and coal, opening the way for many more reactors to be built across the UK . Both of the major political parties are now backing nuclear power as an alternative to polluting energy sources.

Legislation is also in the pipeline to speed up the planning system for major projects such as power stations.

EDF has also met local planning authorities Sedgemoor District Council and West Somerset Council.

Sedgemoor corporate director Doug Bamsey said: "We are positive in our desire to work with EDF and any other organisation looking at the future of Hinkley. We are keen to ensure there is a proper opportunity for communities to understand what is proposed and to have their say."

Jim Duffy, from the Stop Hinkley group, believes that if EDF buys British Energy it will eventually build two reactors on the site.

He said: " Europe 's largest power company is stealthily lining itself up to build the two biggest nuclear reactors in the world at Hinkley.

"We are worried about the hugeness of this project with its associated factors of safety and terrorism."


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Page Updated 08-Jun-2008