CAMPAIGNERS fear huge areas of countryside will be “trashed” after plans for preparatory works on the proposed Hinkley C nuclear power station were unveiled this week.

EDF Energy applied to West Somerset Council to carry out preliminary works including removing hedgerows, woodland and grassland.

EDF bosses say the bid marks a “key stage” in the project and if app-roved will make the construction phase easier.

But Stop Hinkley activists claim the works would wipe out the land and fill in a valley near the site before a formal application to build the plant itself has even been given the go ahead.

Crispin Aubrey, the Stop Hinkley spokesman, accused EDF of treating the countryside with contempt by “trashing more than 400 acres of woodland, cornfields and coastline stretching from the Severn Estuary to the village of Shurton”.

He added: “This is jumping the gun on a massive scale.”

The group also insists EDF's promise to restore the site to its original state if the Hinkley C plans are ultimately rejected would be impossible and wants opponents to register their objections with West Somerset Council planners.

EDF says it recognises the plans will have an impact on the local area but has pledged to ensure any “significant adverse effects are appropriately mitigated in a way which is en-vironmentally responsible and sensitive both to the needs of the community and to the strategies of the relevant local authorities”.