Residents have major concerns over the impact nuclear new-build will have on their communities, two public meetings have heard.

A host of complaints were put to nuclear chiefs by angry residents of Mirehouse and Egremont at last night’s meetings, including the impact of the development on the road and rail network, local health care and house prices.

The meetings had been arranged by Copeland mayor Mike Starkie after a letter sent by NuGen – the firm behind plans for a three-reactor plant at Moorside, next to Sellafield – led residents to believe their homes and land were at risk of compulsory purchase.

Tom Samson, NuGen’s chief executive, apologised to residents for the “upset that the letter caused” and added that the firm is “aiming to have zero compulsory purchases”, but those who “may be affected in this way are already in a conversation with us”.

Egremont and Mirehouse residents are likely to be affected, however, by accommodation and transport links for around 4,000 construction workers being built next to their communities, the meeting heard.

Areas at Cleator Moor and Corkickle are also under consideration to house workers. A number of Mirehouse residents raised concern about potential impacts on the estate.

Jayne Laine, a Whitehaven town councillor for the Mirehouse ward, said: “The temporary worker accommodation will be like a ghetto camp. It is not what Mirehouse wants or needs.”

And Chris Reay, a Copeland councillor for the ward, added there were concerns about the impact on houses if the railway track that runs through Mirehouse needs to be widened to accommodate the worker trains.

Related:   NuGen says sorry over misleading compulsory purchase letters

Questions were also asked about the noise created by extra trains. In Egremont, concern was raised about the possibility of compulsory purchases, and the option of compensation if people are impacted in other ways.

In response to a question from David Allison, Mr Samson said NuGen will be “tapping into the local labour market as much as possible”, while Egremont councillor Sam Pollen urged the firm to be “clearer on what community benefits will be on offer”.

An 11-week public consultation opens on May 14 during which, Mr Samson said, a number of the matters raised will be addressed, adding: “No decisions have been made yet. We are listening to people and and working to minimise the impacts.”

The firm hopes construction will begin in 2020 and the first reactor would go on stream four years later.

A total of 21,000 jobs will be created during the lifetime of the plant.