Suffolk communities could expect to benefit from the “biggest boost to the economy for a generation”, if Sizewell C follows the same course as its sister project in Somerset – or years of disruption and stress. Opinions on Hinkley Point C range hugely, depending on who you ask. Somerset County Council has given the most positive account, describing Hinkley as “biggest boost to the economy of the region for a generation”. The council’s scrutiny committee for place, which visited the site in November, highlighted the 4,000 jobs and 450 apprenticeships created. Somerset Chamber of Commerce also highlighted the 4,000 local companies to have signed up to the ‘Hinkley Supply Chain’ “The benefits to businesses in the South West are evident in the number of regional companies we have approaching us with their success stories, as well as the headline figure of £1.7 billion of contracts awarded so far,” a spokesman added. “No two success stories are the same and the routes to contract vary greatly.” Helen Lacey, managing director at Red Berry Recruitment, gave a more mixed appraisal. She said that while there had been opportunities, businesses had also lost out. “It’s almost like a double edged sword,” she said. “Initially, there was a big flurry of activity when lots of business in the manufacturing sector started to lose staff because of the salaries that Hinkley were offering. “That did put a strain on a lot of businesses – some had to close down entire manufacturing lines because they didn’t have the required engineers or welder and they were unable to back fill.” But Ms Lacey said that many staff had since returned and they found Hinkley “was not an environment they wanted to work in”, Campaigners who objected to Hinkley C claim people have moved from the area because of the “emotional stress” of constant disruption. Roy Pumfrey, of Stop Hinkley said opposition had increased significantly since construction got underway – with traffic the most pressing concern. Councils had pressed for EDF to build a “northern bypass” for Bridgwater. But despite a 1,400-strong petition, EDF ruled it out on environmental grounds. Mr Pumfrey said it meant that as soon as work began, “thousands of HGVs came through Cannington, where I live”. Mr Pumfrey said many workers had been accused of ‘fly-parking’ in residential streets while they access the site. EDF said it had a team issuing warning tickets or removing site access passes from ‘fly-parking’ offenders. EDF has also said it had tried to address pressures on accommodation, by creating a 500-bed onsite campus and 1,000 bed facility in Bridgwater, as well as a £7.5m housing fund to help councils create a further 1,900 bed spaces, for local people, workers and tourists. But Mr Pumfrey said many workers still rented privately – and their high salaries had pushed up prices from an average of around £350 per month for a one-bed property to £500 or more. A recent online search found the cheapest one-bed flat in Bridgwater was £450per month, while most cost between £600-700. Mr Pumfrey said the hikes “squeezed local people out of the accommodation market”. Richard Cuttell, chairman of the West Hinkley Action Group, said his initial concerns were for the impact on the villages surrounding the site, including dust, noise, and light pollution as well as increased traffic. Now that work had begun, he said all the group’s concerns had proven justified.
East Anglian Daily Times 12th Dec 2019 read more »