A CAMPSITE on the edge of a Somerset beauty spot can rapidly expand to provide much-needed housing for the growing Hinkley Point C workforce.

Terry Ayre operates the Moorhouse Campsite in Holford, which lies just off the A39 near the north-eastern edge of the Quantock Hills National Landscape (formerly area of outstanding natural beauty, or AONB).

Mr Ayre applied to expand the campsite to provide 100 new caravan pitches, allowing Hinkley Point C (HPC) workers to live within easy reach of the construction site for a three-year period.

Somerset Council’s planning committee west has now given its unanimous backing to the proposals, provided the caravans only remain in place for the next three years.

The new pitches would be created at the eastern edge of Moorhouse Farm, with access onto an unnamed road which links the A39 to Stogursey.

A new ablutions block would be built in the centre of the wider campsite, providing toilets and showers (including one with disabled access) for the workforce.

Mr Ayre originally intended to provide 115 new pitches on site, but this was reduced to 100 following conversations with planning officers.

A smaller number of pitches for HPC purposes was previously set aside at the campsite’s northern edge, with the temporary planning permission which were secured in 2018 being extended.

The majority of HPC workers housed at the new caravans are expected to travel to and from the construction site via the existing park and ride services (funded by EDF Energy) rather than using private vehicles.

The total number of workers on the HPC site is expected to rise from its current level of around 10,000 to around 12,000 by the middle of 2025 – with the first reactor expected to begin generating electricity by September 2028.

Bridgwater Mercury: Workers at the site of the first reactor building.Workers at the site of the first reactor building. (Image: EDF)

Mr Ayre made his case in favour of the plans when the council’s planning committee west (which handles major applications in the former Somerset West and Taunton area) convened in Taunton on Tuesday afternoon (November 21).

He said: “These pitches are for touring caravans that are owned by the workers that would be staying on site – they’re not mobile or static homes.

“Some prefer to cycle to the site rather than use the bus, and we’re willing to provide a bike shelter for them.

“My wife and I have over 30 years’ experience of running campsites, both at Moorhouse Farm and in West Bagborough. We have always found EDF workers to be respectful and quiet.”

Councillor Gwilym Wren (whose Upper Tone division include villages west of the Quantock Hills) raised concerns about how well the local roads would cope in light of such a rapid expansion.

He said: “The number of caravans on site is going to almost double. This is not a simple increase.”

EDF Energy is looking to expand several campsites across Somerset which are being used to accommodate additional worker, in addition to providing more accommodation on its campuses both in Bridgwater and near the construction site.

Sedgemoor District Council approved plans in March for 58 additional pitches at the Mill Lane Camping and Caravan Park on Watery Lane in Fiddington – with a further 100 pitches expected to be delivered at the Quantock Lakes site near Nether Stowey.

Councillor Rosemary Woods (Watchet and Stogursey) said the Holford campsite was a suitable location for housing HPC workers, many of whom were not from the south west.

She said: “We have to be kind to the workers. They’re going to be away from home, and this is a nice site.

“If you’re off shift and you’re at a loose end, you can walk down to Kilve – there is a lot to do.

“If locals complain to HPC about their people, they will take that into account – they will not allow things that are unacceptable to go on, because it reflects badly on them.”

Councillor Steven Pugsley (Dulverton and Exmoor) added: “We’ve got to accept the fact that we’ve got the biggest building site in western Europe within a short coach ride of this campsite.

“This is a practical solution to part of the accommodation problem. It is time limited for three years and we have planning conditions in place for the restitution of the site.”

The committee voted unanimously to approve the plans after less than half an hour’s debate.