COUNCILLORS are 'aghast' at the latest proposals by EDF Energy to increase the number of HGV road deliveries made to Hinkley Point C by up to 250 a day while work continues on the project’s jetty.

Town Council Leader Brian Smedley said: “Yet again it’s blatantly obvious that all this would have been solved by a Bypass.

"All the tinkering with road junctions that has brought traffic chaos will mean little compared to the disruption, noise and air pollution brought by this latest increase.

"We have until December 18 now to get a proper workable and valuable set of mitigation proposals in place as I strongly suspect Somerset County Council won’t vote against it happening.”

Cllr Smedley has invited EDF, SCC and SDC to an urgent meeting to explain what is happening and to discuss what mitigation measures would be required by the Town if we were to agree to this.

Bridgwater Town Clerk Alan Hurford “Town Council would expect to be heard before decision”

Town Clerk Alan Hurford said: “Given the impact of a possible 50 per cent increase in HGV movements I am amazed that there has to date been no formal notification and no consultation with the Town Council. 

"The HGV routes have a daily impact on the town and this can only exacerbate the problem.“  

EDF are proposing to increase the number of HGV movements to Hinkley C by up to 250 a day to complete work on the site's new jetty.

The request has been made and will be considered by Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Highways England which will be considered later this month.

EDF say completion of the jetty will enable 80 per cent of the material needed to build the power station to be brought to the site by sea rather than by road.

The jetty is expected to be complete at the end of 2018 at the fully operational by 2019.

EDF Energy is proposing to put £4 million of extra funding into measures to mitigate the extra HGV movements. 

This would help maintain roads, contribute to the Somerset County Council’s traffic control centre, and create more walking and cycling routes. The extra funding could also support construction of the long awaited Colley Lane Southern Access Road which is due to be decided by Somerset County Council later this month.

David Eccles, EDF Energy’s head of stakeholder engagement for Hinkley Point C, said: “We continue to work with the local authorities to minimise impact of the Hinkley Point C project. Our focus remains to maximise the use of deliveries to site by sea, but for a temporary period we need to increase our road deliveries.

"We have already delivered much of an agreed £20 million of local road improvements and if this proposal is accepted, additional funds will be invested into the local road network.

"We will continue to talk and listen to local businesses and communities about traffic and consider ways in which affected residents could be helped during the temporary period."

A spokesperson at Somerset County Council, said: "We recognise it is in all our interests for the Hinkley Point C project to progress. However, we must also ensure that the impacts of the proposal on local communities are addressed."

Councillor Peter Downing Sedgemoor District Council’s portfolio holder for infrastructure said: "We remain supportive of the EDF Energy project to build Hinkley Point C, recognising its national significance and the economic benefit to Sedgemoor and the wider South West. 

"We would regard with concern the additional impact on an already stretched highways infrastructure of any increase in road traffic but would welcome the prospect of funding to mitigate the effect on our businesses and communities. We will continue to work with EDF Energy to identify the way forward."

EDF is currently allowed an average of 500 HGV movements per day in any given quarter, with a maximum of 750 per day.

However, the company is now seeking to increase the quarterly average to 750 HGV movements per day until the end of September 2019 when the jetty is set to be full operational.

No movements are permitted on Sundays or Bank Holidays and limits also apply on movements at particular times of the day.

Cllr Mick Lerry, leader of the Labour Group on Sedgemoor District Council, said: “The EDF request to increase the number of HGV movements by up to 250 a day has been something that the council has anticipated due to the delay in getting the jetty operational.
“However such a request does have consequences for the people of Bridgwater and does go outside the national Development Consent Order.”

Cllr Lerry said the appropriate air and noise monitoring is in place and that residents from Junctions 23 and 24 of the M5 were given access to the same double glazing scheme as Cannington residents.

He added: “We will also argue the case for funding to be made available for the pedestrian and cycle route, known as the Celebration Mile from the Railway Station to the Docks. 

“The Celebration Mile is within the Bridgwater Vision and Local Plan for Sedgemoor District Council.” 

County councillor Leigh Redman questioned why the increase was being pushed through with such urgency.

He said: “I have been saying this day would come for years, but the increase by 50 per cent is a shock, particularly as it looks like the decision has already been taken.

“I believe we need something else to compensate for the additional 250 lorry movements a day for 21 months, that works out to more than 100,000 movements on top of those already agreed. We need time to seek thoughts and comments from our communities.

“I believe mitigation measures could include a bypass for Bridgwater, cycle and pedestrian safety enhancements, concessionary bus fares for young and old and improvements for the town centre.”

Town councillor Adrian Moore said he was concerned the town council had not been consulted about the increase in HGVs.

“I have huge concerns about these extra vehicles. Bridgwater is already at maxed for traffic, one issue and the whole town is at a standstill,” Cllr Moore said.

“Bridgwater Town Council was not contacted us at all. EDF says it has invested £20m in the roads but they have only widened junctions for their own lorries. They run roughshod over Bridgwater and they should meet with the town council as soon as possible.”