UPDATE MP joins cash plea over Sizewell nuclear power station

SUFFOLK MP has joined calls for the region to be suitably financially acknowledged by developers of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear plant, but discouraged aspirations of massive windfall payments

Dr Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, agreed with council bosses that communities should receive significant infrastructure benefits from nuclear power projects, and that business rate rules for nuclear technologies were inconsistent with fees applicable to renewables.

Last week, the county and district council called on the Government to allow business rate payments from all low-carbon technology projects to be retained locally. Under current local government resource review proposals, nuclear is not among the technologies considered for full local retention of rates, payable in the case of Sizewell by EDF Energy.

Dr Coffey said she had taken the matter up with ministers and would be writing to Westminster with parliamentary colleague Ian Liddell-Grainger, whose West Somerset constituency includes the Hinkley Point nuclear site.

Dr Coffey added: 'There was some encouragement from Eric Pickles [communities and local government secretary] about local communities having significant infrastructure benefits.'

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Guy McGregor, the county's roads, transport and planning chief, last week hoped there was time to persuade the Government to change tack on business rates.

He argued that retention could mean millions for local authorities in Suffolk annually. Dr Coffey supported the need for local rewards but urged against the assumption of consistent kickbacks.

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She said: 'There is a risk that people think there is going to be a huge bonanza but we have to be careful. When the power station is off-line it doesn't have to pay business rates.

'However, I think we deserve some recognition for this and to say that areas hosting renewable energy projects, such as wind farms, should retain 100% of business rates and not those hosting nuclear does seem inconsistent. I will be following it up.'

Meanwhile, EDF Energy has also given its support to the proposal for authorities hosting major projects to retain a proportion of rates.

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