THE company behind plans to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point has admitted the £10billion project will be a mixed blessing for Taunton, saying planning has so far been focused on other areas, including West Somerset.

Speaking at a business breakfast at Taunton School last week, EDF representative David Eccles outlined the scale of the project (see the factfile) and fielded challenging questions from guests.

Mr Eccles said during the peak construction phase 5,600 people would be involved and the power station would pump £100million into the local economy while it is built.

In the Bridgwater and West Somerset area, the impact of the new power station on local roads and services has been a hot topic with the district and county councils lobbying hard for the areas’ interests.

Taunton Deane Council has so far taken a lower profile in its attempts to cash in on the money available to mitigate the negative effects of a new power station.

At the breakfast, Deane council leader John Williams said the impact of the project on the Taunton area had been underplayed.

He said: “There’s going to be a huge impact round here – it doesn’t stop on the border of Sedgemoor. Why is there a total disregard for Taunton Deane?

“We need assistance for housing infrastructure and recreation facilities.”

In response, Mr Eccles admitted the firm had been ‘slightly blinkered’ towards other areas, adding: “I acknowledge there has been a primary focus on Sedgemoor and West Somerset, where the majority of the impact will be felt, but no doubt a large number of the power station’s workforce will live in Taunton and Weston-super-Mare.

“We’re reaching out and engaging with Taunton and Weston in a more constructive way. We acknowledge the impact for good and bad in Taunton – in terms of good there are business opportunities, and for the bad there could be an adverse impact on the affordable housing sector as the workforce may eat into affordable housing provision.”

Mr Eccles encouraged the council to bid for money from a housing fund EDF has established.