An innovative approach to monitoring and auditing the environmental and socio-economic impacts of constructing major projects: the case of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station

Major projects, in sectors such as transport, energy, minerals, waste and water, have long life cycles and can have major local and regional environmental and socio-economic impacts. The impacts of the construction stage can be particularly damaging, if not managed well. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a universal approach for anticipating such impacts, and for mitigating adverse impacts, and enhancing positive impacts in advance of development, through design innovations and associated conditions. However, the approach is only as good as the implementation of such innovations and conditions. The issue of monitoring and auditing of actual, as against predicted, impacts is an Achilles heel in the planning and assessment process.  

Hinkley Point C (HPC) is currently one of the largest construction projects in Europe. It is a £20bn project, with a construction stage of 12 years, and with a current workforce of over 5000. A study has recently been completed at Oxford Brookes University, led by Professor John Glasson, which provides a unique insight into the actual local impacts of the early construction years of this project. Funded by the New Nuclear Local Authorities Group (NNLAG), it seeks to provide vital evidence for future nuclear new build in the UK. The study identifies KPIs, examines monitoring data for these KPIs, and audits the findings against the predictions.The results show that in some sectors, such as employment and training, transport, health and community safety, the project is performing well and as predicted. Indeed, the investments in skills training and the local and regional supply chain, are quite transformational for the rural Somerset location. In some other areas, such as impacts on the local accommodation markets, the findings are more mixed, and data on environmental health and the biophysical environment are too limited to provide adequate assessments.

The research also compares approaches to monitoring at HPC with other recent and current UK major projects, including the London Olympics and Crossrail.  

Research Team: John Glasson, Bridget Durning, Martine Broderick and Kellie Welch.