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Great views (if you ignore the power station)

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: July 07, 2012

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For sale: one Grade II-listed former farmhouse with ten and a half acres of land, stables, woodland – and Europe's biggest construction site as a neighbour.

It is the second half of that paragraph that residents fear will knock tens of thousands of pounds off the value of their homes and what has prompted EDF Energy to come up with a compensation scheme if they struggle to sell or achieve a good price.

As the developer of the proposed Hinkley C nuclear power station awaits the outcome of its planning application many residents of five hamlets near the construction site are preparing to leave.

Peter Malim, vice-chairman of Stogursey Parish Council, put his home on the market three months ago.

He has lived at Wick Pound House, Wick, near Stogursey for 17 years. The existing Hinkley B nuclear power station was already a fixture in the landscape when he moved in.

"The problem we have is that we are just so close to the road – it's just 60 metres away," he said yesterday.

"As an area we are not against nuclear power but we don't welcome the idea of 24-hour working.

"Around one third of the people in the area involved have applied to the scheme. Of course, just because people have registered an interest does not mean that they are going to move but quite a few houses are for sale. EDF has also offered double glazing, but people would prefer to be able to open their windows."

EDF said it recognises that living close to the ten-year building programme may affect the ability of those closest to the site to sell their homes and has voluntarily offered to compensate 150 householders if they have to sell for less than the houses would have fetched if no building work was going on. And if a resident tries to sell a house with a reputable estate agent, and has no takers after six months the French-owned energy giant will buy the dwelling itself.

Sixty-one locals have said they are interested in the scheme so far, and several already have their homes up for sale. EDF has already bought one house.

Stogursey Parish Council fought for villagers to be able to state their concerns in person to Planning Inspectorate commissioners who are half way through their five-month consideration of EDF's massive planning application.

Among concerns the parish council and villagers raised were round-the-clock working, the need to restrict any such work to the northern part of the site and concerns that the workers' accommodation block proposed for the village is far too big.

David Eccles, head of EDF Energy's Bridgwater office, said: "We introduced our Property Price Support Scheme in 2011 to offer support to our most immediate site neighbours. This was done voluntarily by us to recognise the particular impact on those residents living closest to the planned construction site. Of course, we hope that people won't want to move away, but if they do, we felt it fair and responsible to offer this support to them."

EDF has also put £5 million into a Housing Fund for wider mitigation because of pressure the huge influx of workers could put on housing.

Crispin Aubrey of Stop Hinkley says the compensation scheme is: "Evidence that people are very fearful of what life is going to be like if Hinkley C gets planning permission."

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