Communities living near a new nuclear station at Hinkley Point in Somerset could receive benefits worth up to £128 million for hosting the power plant.
The Government has announced incentives for communities around eight sites in England and Wales, worth up to £1,000 per megawatt over 40 years – the planned lifetime of Hinkley Point C (pictured) – from when the nuclear power stations start operating.
The Government gave the go-ahead to EDF Energy’s plans to build a new atomic power station with a capacity of 3,260MW at Hinkley Point earlier this year, following which the power supplier signed two labour relations agreements with trade unions and a major contractor.
Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “New nuclear will have a central role to play in our energy strategy, providing heat and light to homes across the country. It is absolutely essential that we recognise the contributions of those communities that host major new energy projects.
“This package is in the interests of local people, who will manage it to ensure long-term meaningful benefit to the community. It’s proportionate to the scale and lifespan of new nuclear power stations and it builds on the major economic benefits they will bring in terms of jobs, investment and use of local services.”
The news builds up on the Government’s business rates retention scheme introduced earlier this year, under which local government keeps 50% of the business rates it collects, together with the growth on that share for up to ten years.
For the first 10 years the government money will be made up of business rates retained locally. Cash for the additional 30 years will come directly from the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
Environmental group Greenpeace UK believes EDF Energy’s nuclear project is “faltering”.
Chief Scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “Whilst wind farms and even shale gas developers have to pay community benefits, only nuclear stations will get a fat taxpayer subsidy to fund them. Our entire energy policy is now absurdly distorted by the desperation to prop up EDF’s faltering Hinkley C project, with the government piling the costs onto the taxpayer to avoid the embarrassment of admitting they backed the wrong technology. We can’t go on like this.”
A survey earlier this year found more than a third of the British public would support Government subsidy for the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK.