A ‘PLAN B’ site has been identified for a £7million centre for nuclear and low-carbon companies in Bridgwater.
Somerset County Council has decided to purchase land on the Woodlands Business Park for the ‘Low Carbon Energy Innovation and Collaboration Centre’.
The project, designed to capitalise on the nuclear power plant due to be built on land at Hinkley Point by EDF Energy, was due to be sited at the Bridgwater Gateway site.
In 2012, the Gateway site was identified as the “first option” for the centre and in December 2013 planning permission was granted.
But, with a June 2015 completion date needed to secure funding, a report released last week said: “To date, Bridgwater Gateway has not been able to complete all the matters needed to ensure the centre can be delivered on this site within the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding timeframe.”
A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “A separate planning application for a site at Woodlands in Bridgwater has been submitted.
“This project is extremely important to Bridgwater and to Somerset and we are preparing for all eventualities to ensure the centre is delivered to timescale and with government funding secured.”
Cllr David Hall, cabinet member for Business, Inward Invest-ment and Policy, said: “We have not abandoned the J24 site but it is important we have a Plan B, so we’re twin tracking.”
The centre hopes to promote a “thriving local economy attracting jobs and investment” and encourage the creation of “thousands of jobs and apprenticeships in Somerset”.
It will provide “flexible office space” for low carbon energy businesses, such as the Hinkley supply chain but also other nuclear, solar, wind energy businesses.
The centre will encourage joint ventures by sharing space and allowing businesses to work on projects together.
Cllr David Huxtable, cabinet member for resources, said: “This is an alternative option which would go ahead if the power station went ahead.
“This project would be financed by the European Regional Development Fund, Somerset County Council is Section 106 funding.”