Nuclear Jobs – Boom and Bust in Rural Communities

As noted previously EdF claim that new nuclear build at Hinkley or Sizewell will lead to 25,000 temporary jobs.

25,000 temporary jobs created also means 25,000 temporary jobs lost at some point. This leads to a ‘boom and bust’ in the local economy.

It is difficult to predict what the overall economic affect of  the new nuclear build will be on the local economy. However, the very positive spin given to it by EDF, the local council and the local press is  unlikely to materialise.

There are a couple of reports1,2 where ‘Evidence suggests that major construction projects in rural areas prevent the growth of employment in more stable industries, and increase unemployment over the longer term.’3 Unfortunately I have not been able to get a copy of those reports.

However, while recently reading the New Internationalist issue of Fracking there were some links to papers on the affect of fracking on the local economy. Although not completely comparable they also have the ‘boom and bust’ affect.

It must be said that the taxpayer will be paying a subsidy to local communities that ‘host’ nuclear power station4. (It is interesting to note that similar payments are made by other power sources such as wind farms but these payments are made by the developers not the tax payer – yet another subsidy for nuclear. ) However, it is not clear if such funding will be used to mitigate some of the negative affects of a new nuclear build since the local council seems blind to anything negative about nuclear.

One of the affects is that the nuclear build will ‘crowding out’ of other businesses by raising housing (as has already happened near Hinkley5) and labour costs:

 While crowding out particularly affects businesses that require a reliable low cost labour supply (agriculture, tourism, or retirement communities, for example), even higher wage businesses such as manufacturers may be deterred from investing in a resource extraction economy. Higher housing costs, labour competition and social issues make the resource dependent region less attractive to other employers than alternative locations.6

The reports6,7,8 also highlight several other issues such as the initial increase in social infrastructure during the boom period can turn into a burden to the remaining smaller population after the bust.

As well as negative affects to the local economy:

A significant body of literature shows that boomtowns can harbor disproportinate increases in social problems such as crime, mental health problems, community disatisfaction, education shortfalls, and other indicators7

 


1 French, M “The Impact of a Power Station on Gwynedd?, Gwynedd County Council Planning Office,September 1976

2 Hanlon, J “Is Gwynedd a Developing Country?? New Scientist 4th May 1978

3 Briefing February 2011 Nuclear Power and Jobs, No2NuclearPower, (http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/reports/JobsBriefing.pdf)

4 Communities to benefit from hosting nuclear power stations, DECC Press Release,July 2013 (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/communities-to-benefit-from-hosting-nuclear-power-stations)

5 Council braced for Hinkley C impact on Sedgemoor housing demand, This is the West Country (http://www.thisisthewestcountry.co.uk/news/somerset_news/10833372.Council_braced_for_Hinkley_C_impact_on_Sedgemoor_housing_demand/)

6 How shale gas extraction affects drilling localities: Lessons for regional and city policy makers,Journal of Town & City Management, 2012 (http://www.greenchoices.cornell.edu/downloads/development/shale/Economic_Effects_on_Drilling_Localities.pdf)

7 Energy Boomtowns & Natural Gas: Implications for Marcellus Shale Local Governments & Rural Communities, NERCRD Rural Development Paper No. 43 January 2009 (http://energy.wilkes.edu/PDFFiles/Issues/Energy%20Boomtowns%20and%20Natural%20Gas.pdf)

8 Booms and Busts, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, 2011, (http://www.wvpolicy.org/downloads/BoomsBusts072111.pdf)

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