The decision to grant EDF Energy consent to construct a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset represents a huge achievement. It follows three years of in-depth consultation with local communities and a year long examination by the UK Planning Inspectorate.
The approval was met with wide political consensus in the House of Commons today.
The process was an immense undertaking to examine the impact of the construction and operation of the site on the community and environment. It included detailed studies on housing, transport and jobs and demonstrated EDF Energy’s commitment to be open, transparent and to listen.
The submission included 55,000 pages of detailed evidence, more than 100 public meetings and exhibitions, as well as individual responses to 33,000 comments received from the public and stakeholders. Agreement reached during consultation with local communities led to a number of changes to the planning application.
Opportunity now for immediate UK economic growth
The approval is the final major permission needed to allow construction of Hinkley Point C. It is a project which can provide the UK with enough secure low carbon electricity to meet 7% of the country’s needs for 60 years or more.
Today’s decision follows the granting of a Nuclear Site Licence and the approval of the power station’s design (Generic Design Assessment) by the UK nuclear safety authority and the award last week of key environmental permits by the Environment Agency.
Hinkley Point C also has the potential to give a massive boost to the economy with 25,000 people working on the power station during its construction, and 900 during its lifetime. Its construction can strengthen the UK’s industrial capability, equipping it to compete for business around the world.
The approval by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change also means that Hinkley Point C is the first piece of national infrastructure on this scale to be approved under the new 2008 Planning Act. This rigorous process was achieved in time.
This remarkable achievement now needs to be matched by the finalisation of a contract for the electricity to be produced at Hinkley Point C. Swift success in negotiations with Government over this Contract for Difference is the key to unlocking the investment needed.
EDF Energy Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “Receiving permission to construct a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C is a huge achievement, which represents years of hard work. It reflects an extraordinary level of professionalism and work from EDF Energy’s planning team, the Planning Inspectorate, local authorities and a wide range of stakeholders.
“This decision sets up a huge opportunity for this project to provide enormous benefits to the UK in jobs, skills, cutting carbon emissions and future energy security. We are ready to deliver and an extensive supply chain is standing by to begin work.
“To make this opportunity a reality, we need to reach agreement swiftly on the Contract for Difference for Hinkley Point C. It must offer a fair and balanced deal for consumers and investors. Intensive discussions with the Government are taking place and agreement is still possible.
“The success of this pioneering project will kick start the new nuclear programme in the UK and is expected to lead to lower costs for successive UK nuclear plants.”