A FIERCE row has broken out between bosses at Sedgemoor District Council and Hinkley Point operators EDF Energy over the cost of researching plans for the planned new nuclear plant.

The authority last week delayed setting its council tax, claiming it needs clarity from EDF over whether it will pay the council £2.3million to meet the costs of scrutinising its power plant application.

However, EDF says it is still negotiating with the council over the amount of money to be paid and the Mercury understands relations between the French-owned energy giant and bosses at Sedgemoor are being stretched by the wrangle.

Council chief executive Kerry Rickards said: “We've always been funded up to March 31. There didn't seem to be any indications coming from EDF that continuation funding was going to be a difficulty.

"Now that they've started to read our evidence, it seems as though they are starting to pull the rug from under us and we won't be able to provide the proper evidence and allow proper due process to take place.

"They have put us in a very difficult position, it seems as though they do not want to budge, and are not providing resources for us to challenge what they say."

However, Richard Mayson, from EDF Energy, said: "Over the past two years we've handed out £13m to councils to perform their duties and negotiations are ongoing.

"The IPC only last Friday published the examination timetable...but we did have a positive meeting with the council on Tuesday and I am hoping we can share a re-examination of our costs, so we can make some progress.”

The council is planning to meet again on Friday (February 24) in the hope an agreement will have been reached.