TRANSPORT links in and around Bridgwater are set to improve, thanks to a massive £3million cash injection announced this week.

The Department for Transport is providing £2.85million to Somerset County Council to upgrade the road, rail and cycle network in preparation of the construction of the proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley.

If that gets the go-ahead, infrastructure links in Bridgwater and the surrounding areas could see further funding in the region of £50million, including cash from from French energy giant EDF – which plans to build Hinkley Point C – other developers and the county council over a three-year period with work starting later this year.

Work will include junction improvements, new roads and roundabouts to help the area cope with a massive increase in traffic as the power station is constructed.

Cllr David Hall, county council cabinet member for business and inwards investment, said: “The way Bridgwater is growing and prospering is great news, for the town and the whole county, especially in the current economic climate.

“It is critical that our infrastructure keeps pace so it can cater for the transport needs that come with it.

“This funding will make a significant contribution to that.”

The planned DfT improvements will include: o £1.6million to fix potholes and general road maintenance.

o £295,000 for a new cycle route from Bridgwater to Hinkley Point.

o £800,000 to improve the railway stations at Bridgwater and also Taunton o £150,000 towards a scheme linking Taunton’s new inner distributor road to the railway station.

The £50million would fund: o A council scheme to improve access to the Colley lane Industrial Estate as a new bridge over the River Parrett and canal and a roundabout at the Showground/Marsh Lane junction.

o An EDF scheme on Taunton Road and Broadway so more traffic can get through more easily.

o An EDF scheme to construct the Cannington bypass which would create a single carriageway, 1.5km 40mph road.

o A developer scheme with additional council funding on the Huntworth roundabout o An EDF scheme to widen Bristol Road/ and The Drove to improve the junction and allow right hand turns.

o An EDF scheme to make improvements to the junction 23 roundabout.

Cllr Hall was keen to reassure road users that disruption during the improvement works will be kept to minimum.

He said: “It is not possible to make these kinds of improvements without some disruption in the short-term; however the longer term benefits will be significant.

“These works are important for the future prosperity of Bridgwater, and everyone will be doing their best to keep disruption to a minimum.

The long-term legacy will be a prosperous Bridgwater with an infrastructure that continues to attract new businesses and investment.”

News of the improvements has not been greeted as enthusiastically by everyone in the area, however with The Stop Hinkley Campaign group feeling that the bill for any improvements to the infrastructure to benefit the development should be met solely by EDF and not the taxpayer.

Roy Pumphrey of the campaign group said: "Surely EDF Energy has already had enough subsidies from hard-pressed taxpayers and consumers.

“If the European Commission gives the goahead to the deal between the UK Government and EDF, it could be worth up to £17billion.

“The Government and local authorities should be forcing EDF to make any improvements necessary at their own expense."