A KEY moment is looming in the Hinkley C project.

By December 21, the Planning Inspectorate, made up of planning experts from across the country, must give the Government a recommendation on whether a third nuclear power station should go ahead.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey will then have three months to pore through the Inspectorate’s paperwork, before giving a yes or no to Hinkley C.

Mercury chief reporter MATTHEW COLLEDGE met with EDF Energy officials at the firm’s Bridgwater offices in King Square to discuss the main issues surrounding the project.

We will be highlighting some of these in coming weeks. Here, we start with arguably the biggest concern raised locally – transport.

EDF Energy has tried to ease fears about roads around Bridgwater being clogged by lorries by bringing in at least 80% of aggregates materials by sea, using a jetty to be built next to the C station.

David Eccles, head of EDF’s Bridgwater office (pictured below), said lorries would be bringing in aggregates from all over the UK, but would mainly arrive in Bridgwater from the north.

He said: “16,000 vehicles go along the NDR each day. We estimate that at peak times, our HGVs will be adding to that by between 3-5%.”

As well as the jetty, a number of measures aim to cut traffic problems.

EDF is proposing a Cannington bypass, park-and-rides off junctions 23 and 24 of the M5, and improvements to road layouts and junctions, particularly in Bridgwater.

EDF is currently tendering for a park-and-ride operator. Each park-and-ride would have 1,300 spaces, solely for Hinkley C workers.

The Mercury reported earlier this year how Somerset County Council had suggested a park-and-ride for Bridgwater as part of its 15-year parking strategy.

EDF plans to return its park-and-ride sites to their current state once Hinkley C is built, however there is the possibility the council could ask to keep them as park-and-rides.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras will be used to make sure lorries use the designated routes and to give warning of possible accidents or delays.

If, after leaving one of the two park-and-rides, an EDF lorry doesn’t pass one of the ANPR cameras, Somerset County Council’s highways teams will be alerted.

  • WORK taking place on roads around Bridgwater will include: Taunton Road/Broadway junction (traffic light sequencing changes in the first half of 2013, and road improvements later); a new roundabout at Sandford Corner (work to start early next year); pedestrian crossing improvements in Cannington. Improvement work has already taken place on Clayland Corner, near Stogursey.
  • EDF Energy is offering free double glazing to people living in the Cannington area affected by noise from lorries – 150 people have signed up so far. David Eccles, head of EDF’s Bridgwater office, said: “There will be a lot of traffic but we are doing our utmost to minimise the impact.”