A CAMPSITE on the edge of the Quantock Hills can rapidly expand to provide extra accommodation for the growing Hinkley Point C nuclear power station workforce.
Somerset Council has given temporary three-year planning permission for Terry Ayre to provide another 100 caravans at his Moorhouse Campsite, in Holford.
Mr Ayre said the expansion would allow Hinkley workers to live within easy reach of the construction site.
Europe’s largest construction site currently has up to 10,000 workers on it and EDF Energy, which is building the nuclear power station, has recently started talks with the council to be allowed even more – despite Hinkley’s original planning permission stipulating the workforce would peak at 5,000.
The council’s planning committee this week unanimously approved the new caravan pitches on the eastern edge of Moorhouse Farm, with access onto an unnamed road which linked the A39 to Stogursey.
A new block will also be built in the centre of the wider campsite to provide toilets and showers, including one with disabled access, for the Hinkley workers.
Mr Ayre originally intended to provide 115 new pitches on site, but reduced the number to 100 following conversations with planning officers.
A smaller number of pitches for Hinkley purposes was previously set aside at the campsite’s northern edge, with the temporary planning permission secured in 2018 being extended.
The majority of the nuclear workers housed in the new caravans are expected to travel to and from the construction site via existing park and ride services funded by EDF rather than using their own vehicles.
EDF now expects the total number of workers on site to rise to about 12,000 by the middle of 2025, with the first of Hinkley C’s two reactors scheduled to begin generating electricity by September, 2028.
Mr Ayre told the planning committee: “These pitches are for touring caravans that are owned by the workers that would be staying on site, they are not mobile or static homes.
“Some prefer to cycle to the site rather than use the bus, and we are willing to provide a bike shelter for them.
“My wife and I have over 30 years’ experience of running campsites, both at Moorhouse Farm and in West Bagborough.
“We have always found EDF workers to be respectful and quiet.”
Cllr Gwil Wren raised concerns about how well the local roads would cope in light of such a rapid expansion.
He said: “The number of caravans on site is going to almost double. This is not a simple increase.”
Cllr Rosemary Woods said the Holford campsite was a suitable location for housing Hinkley workers, many of whom were not from the Westcountry.
She said: “We have to be kind to the workers.
“They are going to be away from home, and this is a nice site.
“If you are off shift and you are at a loose end, you can walk down to Kilve – there is a lot to do.
“If locals complain to Hinkley about their people, they will take that into account – they will not allow things that are unacceptable to go on, because it reflects badly on them.”
Cllr Steven Pugsley said: “We have got to accept the fact that we have the biggest building site in western Europe within a short coach ride of this campsite.
“This is a practical solution to part of the accommodation problem.
“It is time limited for three years and we have planning conditions in place for the restitution of the site.”
EDF Energy is looking to expand several local campsites which were being used to accommodate additional workers, as well as providing more accommodation on its own campuses in Bridgwater and close to the construction site.
The former Sedgemoor District Council approved plans last March for 58 additional pitches at Mill Lane Camping and Caravan Park, in Watery Lane, Fiddington, with a further 100 pitches expected to be delivered at the Quantock Lakes site, near Nether Stowey.