EDF Energy are making a variety of different investments in Bridgwater and the surrounding area in order to facilitate expansion at Hinkley Point. In particular, they will be making a large investment into transport infrastructure in the area.
In particular, EDF will be funding a variety of park and rides across the region, from junction 23 on the M5 in the East, to Williton in the West.
The largest of these park and rides are to be found on the M5, at junctions 23 and 24. Also to be used as centres for heavy goods vehicles, these each consist of 1,300 parking spaces for cars, as well as space for bikes, from which buses will run to reduce the traffic going to Hinkley Point C.
However, the junction 24 park and ride is going to be reduced in size following the completion of the Park and Ride at Junction 23. It will see the number of parking spaces drop to 698, and the number of spaces for HGVs reduced from 140 to 55.
However, the site at junction 24 is to be kept, in order for it to be used for future storage and distribution. On the other hand, following the completion of construction, the park and ride at junction 23 is to be returned to agricultural use.
Smaller park and rides are to be established in Cannington and Williton. The site at Cannington, designed to accommodate workers from the west of Bridgwater and the surrounding rural areas, has 252 parking spaces for cars. The site on a former lorry park at Williton, near Minehead, will have only 160 spaces. Both sites are to be returned to their original uses following the construction, as agricultural land in Cannington, or as a lorry park in Williton.
With regards to the transportation of materials, EDF Energy has committed itself to using the road network as little as possible. To this end, they are refurbishing Combwich Wharf in order to allow the delivery of large items to Hinkley Point C over water.
EDF are also investing money in the development of a bypass at Cannington, to allow traffic to the site to permanently avoid the village, as well as greater development of the roads in Bridgwater itself. Through these methods, the firm hopes that it will reduce the strain that expansion will put on the road network.
However, Stop Hinkley have claimed that EDF’s transport plans are dangerous. They feel that motorway accidents and traffic during the summer often gridlock the roads through Bridgwater and along the M5, and that the large number of HGVs coming to the area for the project is untenable.
MP Ian Liddell-Grainger insists that the development will not excessively gridlock the road network, as the new park and rides will reduce traffic. He also said: “Lorries will go at set times – there are cameras to make sure they aren’t going when they shouldn’t be.”