ANTI-NUCLEAR protesters say a council’s request for £750,000 from two energy firms to help process plans for a new power station at Hinkley Point are ‘a conflict of interest’.

Sedgemoor District Council’s director of regeneration Doug Bamsey made the request in letters to British Energy and EDF.

The letter asks for £500,000 to fund a planning officer over five years to act as a key coordinator in the plans for a new Hinkley C station. It also calls for a further £200-250,000 consultancy budget, to include legal, economic or transport assessments.

Green Party representative Charles Graham and Stop Hinkley’s David Taylor are protesting at the move.

Mr Taylor said: “The very idea that you would ask an applicant to fund the planning officer that will be dealing with your case presents just about the clearest example of conflict of interests.”

Mr Bamsey, however, denied any suggestion the money could have had an influence on the council’s decision on the new Hinkley site.

He said: “If money was given we would have to be very clear that there was no conflict of interest. No resources received could be on the basis of a particular outcome.

“With every planning application there is a fee – this is a multi-billion pound budget so the funding needed for planning is much higher and we have limited resources.

“Ideally the money would come from the Government, we have asked them about the funding and will be in contact with them again.”