November date set for Court of Appeal challenge to EDF’s £10bn Hinkley nuclear project

EDF’s plans for the development of a new £10bn nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point will face a challenge in the Court of Appeal later this year.

The court will hear a challenge from cellophane manufacturer Innovia Films that the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), the body set up by the previous government to fast-track major infrastructure projects, should not have granted access to EDF to survey its land. The energy firm plans to use the land to house workers for the 10-year £10bn project.

Innovia already had planning permission to build homes on the site and the manufacturer lost an initial judicial review in the High Court in November last year.

But now the Court of Appeal has said its case can be heard on 14 and 15 November this year.

The cellophane firm argued that dwellings were excluded from being considered as associated development for the nuclear project under the Planning Act 2008 and
therefore the IPC could not grant permission for them or the surveys associated with them.

This claim was rejected by the High Court judge.

The construction of the workers’ campus is crucial to the development of the power plant at Hinkley Point because the project will need 6,500 workers at the peak of its construction.

The site on the outskirts of Bridgewater, around eight miles from the Hinkley site itself, has been earmarked by EDF as accommodation for over 1,000 people.

If Innovia is successful it would make it unlikely that EDF could be given a compulsory purchase order for the site and would seriously disrupt plans for the project, which is already working to a tight timescale.

The contract for the £2.5bn civils job is set to go to one of two joint ventures: Balfour Beatty and Vinci or Laing O’Rourke and Bouygues.

The challenge to the Hinkley project comes just a week after opponents to the high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham launched three separate judicial reviews against the government’s decision to give the green light to the scheme.

The legal challenges to the infrastructure projects have prompted fears of delays that could impact on construction.