WEST SOMERSET Council (WSC) was ‘unaware’ of a meeting in which the leader of Sedgemoor District Council (SDC) travelled to Westminster to discuss uncertainty over Hinkley C money with senior officials.

Cllr Duncan McGinty met with MP Jake Berry, parliamentary under secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government to discuss ‘the uncertainty surrounding the delivery method of Community Benefit for Sedgemoor and West Somerset arising from Hinkley C as well as discussing the future design of business rates retention’.

Councillor McGinty said: “It was a really positive meeting. Sedgemoor has taken the lead in raising this issue at a national level.

"We have met numerous officials and politicians over the past 10 years and we try to make sure that our message is being heard loud and clear.

"We hope that our efforts will ultimately bring more benefits for the local community during the operational phase of HPC.

"Sedgemoor has been campaigning on community benefit contributions since 2008, negotiating with Ministers, MPs and civil servants, consistently raising this issue in Parliament and making its case to officials, policy makers, other councils and the nuclear industry. We secured £128 million back in 2013 for the operational phase of HPC."

Jake Berry, MP said ““Hinkley Point C is a major national infrastructure project, so I was pleased to meet with Councillor McGinty and engage in a positive discussion about it. I encourage him to continue to work closely with both my Department and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.”

But while Hinkley C falls within West Somerset, the district council was not invited to send a representative.

A WSC spokesperson said: “West Somerset Council can confirm it was not represented at the recent meeting between Cllr Duncan McGinty and Jake Berry MP and was not made aware of the meeting until after it had taken place.

“WSC and our partners at SDC and Somerset County Council (SCC) have been seeking clarity from the since the Government announced the Hinkley C community benefit policy in 2013 that they had set up a community benefit policy in relation to Hinkley C.

“The relationship between business rates payable by any of the Hinkley sites and WSC’s finances will always be critical. Detailed discussions relating to this have to involve both WSC and SCC who will receive any business rates from Hinkley C once it begins to generate electricity.”

West Somerset faces even further uncertainty regarding the future of business rates as it is set to merge with Taunton Deane Borough Council and form a new council.