UK communities could be paid millions of pounds to host nuclear power plants, the government announced on Wednesday.
Eight sites in England and Wales could be in line to receive benefits of up to £1,000 per megawatt hour of electricity produced for up to 40 years after the reactors come online.
The funds will be tailored to the areas and focus on ensuring a local economic legacy from the projects, the government said. Overall payments to an area such as that surrounding Hinkley Point in Somerset, earmarked for two reactors, could reach £128m.
The move follows similar schemes for communities hosting shale gas rigs or onshore wind farms, which were unveiled earlier this year. Under the proposed community benefit schemes wind farms will generate benefits of £5,000/MWh over 20 years, while shale gas operators will have to pay £100,000 for each well site, as well as 1% of production revenues.
Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “It is absolutely essential that we recognise the contributions of those communities that host major new energy projects. This package is in the interests of local people, who will manage it to ensure long-term meaningful benefit to the community. It’s proportionate to the scale and lifespan of new nuclear power stations and it builds on the major economic benefits they will bring in terms of jobs, investment and use of local services.”
The package builds on a business rates retention scheme introduced in April this year that allows local government to keep half of the business rates it collects from nuclear projects for up to a decade. By contrast, local authorities can retain all of the business rates from land based renewables that have come online after 1 April this year.