SEDGEMOOR District Council has defended its decision to donate a chunk of public land by Bridgwater College for a new nuclear training centre.

During a private part of a council meeting this month, councillors agreed to give the college the land so it can press ahead with its new energy skills centre. Anti-nuclear group Stop Hinkley claimed the land was worth around £100,000 and hit out at the decision to pass it on.

Stop Hinkley spokesman Jim Duffy said: “This land is owned by council taxpayers who should be consulted if the council wants to give it away for nothing.

“But many taxpayers will not want their hard-earned funds going into the dubious task of training the next generation of nuclear workers on behalf of private companies.”

Sedgemoor District Council’s director of regeneration Doug Bamsey said the authority had advertised its intention to dispose of the land in 2007.

He would not comment on its worth but said the land had little open market value because it is tied to the college site.

He added that the council was determined to support the college’s “vital” role in creating a skilled local workforce.

He said: “This is not a debate about the principle of a new nuclear build.

“But this council has always said that if new nuclear proceeds, we are determined to ensure that we have the right infrastructure in place to get the maximum benefit for the local community.”

Mike Robbins, Bridgwater College vice-principal, added: “Our primary purpose in developing this centre is to support nuclear decommissioning.

“There may be a role it can play in supporting the development of a new build, but we are not at that stage yet.”

Mr Robbins said the centre would provide massive economic benefits to the Bridgwater area for years to come.

He added: “The council’s contribution of this land will help us provide the employees of the future.”

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