News December 2015

1 December 2015

Hinkley

Letter Roy Pumfrey: IT IS hard to know where to start on reasons not to be cheerful about Hinkley C. Duncan McGinty’s piece ‘Let’s feel optimistic about Hinkley Point C’ (Mercury, 24 November) was so positively spun it might as well have been written for him by EDF. For a start, it matters not a jot what intentions and commitments are signed by the Chinese and British Governments. This is an Electricité de France project. Until EDF take their Final Investment Decision, something they have put off seven times in the last three years, Hinkley C is in limbo. I notice Vincent de Rivaz, boss of EDF, was again evasive about a start date when pressed recently by the Mercury. Can we be clear about two things? Firstly, EDF will not be spending £18bn on local businesses. The bulk of the spend will be offshore, mainly in (surprise, surprise!) France. We, and I speak as someone who lives in Sedgemoor, will see local businesses benefit by a tiny fraction of the total spend. Whether this counts as ‘significant’ is a moot point. Secondly, whilst ‘local’ jobs should Hinkley ever go ahead would be welcome, EDF has redefined ‘local’ to mean anywhere within 90 minutes drive time of the Point. So the trumpeted headline 25,000 jobs – only 20 percent of which were ever going to be ‘local’ – turns out to be just 5,000 from anywhere from Bristol to Exeter. Eventually, Councillor McGinty gets to the ‘real challenges’ that Hinkley C presents. And then quickly skates around them. Passing mention of the adverse effect on the housing market for first time buyers and all renters that Hinkley C will have. The greater pressure on local health, education and emergency services? Not a mention. Oh, yes, at last, an admission that the local road system will suffer ‘significant additional pressures’. Thanks to EdeF parsimony and the lack of County and District Council strategy, the prospects for a Dunball to Cannington bypass (see ‘Need for by-pass’ letter on same page) are low to non-existent. The only certainty about this white elephant project is that it, if ever started, it will be years late and massively over budget, like every nuclear power station before it. Sadly, in view of the fact that Hinkley C would change the lives of more people in Bridgwater for the worse, I don’t accept that Duncan McGinty has done anything other than gaze at the project through rose tinted glasses. We have no right to feel optimistic.

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Posted: 1 December 2015