I have had a busy couple of days getting out and about meeting with a range of different stakeholders who all have an interest in the Government’s programme to facilitate the development of nuclear new build.
It all started last Friday with a request from a local community who live near to the proposed site at Hinkley Point to visit the surrounding area and to meet with local people. Myself and a colleague travelled to a small village in Somerset called Shurton where we were greeted by local villagers at the host’s house. Not only were we invited to the village by residents, but the Leader of the local council and senior officers met us to welcome us to the area. Once business with the local authorities concluded we headed out for a “ramble” through the countryside complete in our wellies.
The purpose of the tour was to see firsthand, from the perspective of those who border the proposed development area, what the construction could mean for their daily lives. My primary objective was to listen to their views, concerns and aspirations. I was shown the area where the reactors are proposed to be built including the valley bordering on the villages of Shurton, Burton and Knighton & Wick, which would be levelled for the construction period.
The majority of the local villagers who we met accept that new nuclear could be part of the energy mix and support the Government’s overall policy to facilitate this. But what is important to them is that any proposed development is done in the best way for everyone.
It was a very enjoyable, informative and constructive day which gave us a much better understanding of the size of the proposed development and the possible impact on the local community. There are many issues for us to consider and to evaluate what role central Government can constructively play to enable new nuclear whilst ensuring as much as possible the quality of life of those local communities affected.
A couple of days later I was engaging with a completely different audience of stakeholders to discuss the consultations on the Funded Decommissioning Guidance and the Waste Transfer Pricing Methodology. This was a technical yet constructive discussion on how Government will ensure that operators make arrangements to put aside money from day one to cover the costs of decommissioning and waste storage which is key to Government delivering new nuclear without public subsidy.