Stogursey community should have more say at Hinkley Point planning consultation
|Author: Stacey Beaumont||Published: 16th February 2012 11:08|
West Somerset Council is calling for swift action from the Chairman and Lead Commissioner of the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) to listen to people of the parish of Stogursey.
Residents of the small rural parish, which will host the UK's largest building project if the IPC gives EDF Energy permission to construct two new nuclear reactors, has been omitted from a list of communities that have been promised ‘open floor hearings' as part of the IPC's Examination process.
The hearings are designed to give local people the chance to air their concerns and the IPC an opportunity to better understand the impacts on local communities.
Cllr Tim Taylor, Leader of West Somerset Council, explained: "In its letter dated February 10 the IPC granted the parishes of Combwich and Cannington, which lie several miles distant from the proposed building site at Hinkley Point, the chance to have their say and be heard by commissioners.
"Astonishingly, Stogursey and its small hamlets of Shurton, Burton, Knighton, Wick and Stolford, which will bear the brunt of the very worst impacts of the proposed development, have not been afforded the same opportunity. I therefore understand the anger and anxiety this has caused within the wider parish of Stogursey. As a Council we have written to the IPC, and as Council Leader, I have written to the IPC Chairman to point out what must be an oversight and asked for the situation to be rectified as soon as possible.
"Naturally we are pleased representatives are visiting neighbouring parishes like Combwich and Cannington, but the voices of the people of Stogursey must be heard at the start of the Examination process in the same way as other communities further from the site."
If the proposed development goes ahead, the small close-knit community will suffer the most profound negative impacts of any community, both during construction and during operation of the station, as well as during the decommissioning and waste storage phases of the project.
In its letter, which the IPC sent to people who registered an interest in the project, the committee laid out its ‘Initial Assessment of Principal Issues' and a draft timetable for examination of the application.
West Somerset Council has pledged to participate fully in the Examination of the Hinkley Point C Development Consent Order (DCO). However, it has written to the Lead Commissioner to formally request that the impacts on communities within the parish of Stogursey are treated as a Principal Issue and that the IPC offers the same level of scrutiny to the host Parish.
The council had previously identified that Stogursey will suffer negative impacts as host to the main construction site with its incumbent noise, light and dust impacts, the effects of all the transport movements to and from the development, as well as the socio-economic impacts of the proposed on-site campus.
The council maintains that the cumulative impact of these issues will, if not carefully controlled, have an enormous effect on people's quality of life, and warrant parity with the other Principal Issues which the IPC has identified.
The council also calls on the IPC to bring forward its inspection of the Hinkley Point site, which is currently scheduled for mid-September.
Cllr Chris Morgan, West Somerset Council's Deputy Leader, Lead Member for the Environment and ward member for Stogursey, said: "We strongly recommend that the IPC inspects the proposed construction site sooner rather than later. Once site preparation work* starts, which will be soon, commissioners may not be able to appreciate the true impact that this will have on the community and its environment.
"The Council respects that the final decision on the timetable will only be settled after a preliminary meeting. However, the proper recognition of Stogursey Parish is something that cannot, in our view, wait until that point in the Examination.
"We are calling upon the Panel of Commissioners to swiftly acknowledge the proper role of the host parish and to act. Overall, residents in Stogursey Parish are extremely upset and disappointed that they have received no recognition of their existence.
"Residents want to ensure that commissioners fully appreciate and understand the devastating effect the project will have on the environment and the residents living close by. From the start of the proposed project they have worked positively with authorities to help them understand how drastically their lives and environment will change, and it is vital that they are given a say."
- Site Preparation Works are due to commence this month with significant vegetation clearance due to take place from April onwards. The projected programme indicates that significant earthworks will commence in June/July this year.