Client EDF claims restrictions on lorry movements could hold up completion of the project

The construction of the UK’s first nuclear power plant could suffer a delay of up to two years if caps on lorry movements by local authorities aren’t lifted, client EDF Energy has claimed.

Nearly all road deliveries to the costal site in Somerset earmarked for the proposed £10bn new Hinkley plant, have to pass through the village of Cannington, which sits between Hinkley Point and the M5 - the nearest motorway.

EDF estimates that a limit of 318 lorry movements a day through the village, enforced by the local authorities, would significantly delay completion of the scheme and wants to see the cap increased to 750 daily movements when construction begins.

However, West Somerset Council, Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council are refusing to lift the cap, which also limits the number of movements at peak times to 24 an hour, until a bypass around the village is built.

The councils say they are already receiving complaints from local residents about noise and disturbance caused by the number of lorries coming through the village to support site preparation works, currently being carried out by Kier BAM.

EDF has agreed to construct the bypass but this will not be completed until at least 19 months into the main phase of the project, which would start next year if the firm is granted permission to build by the Planning Inspectorate.

In a written answer to questions from the Planning Inspectorate, EDF said the existing cap would not only delay completion of the project by between 21 and 24 months but also increase costs.

It said: “The delay would also defer the savings of some 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum, as a result of not being able to displace fossil-fuelled generation that would otherwise be needed. Delay, of course, would also extend the overall period of local disruption caused by the construction of Hinkley Point C.”

It added: “EDF Energy respectfully suggests that such a delay cannot be justified by the short-term impacts in Cannington.”