The NFLA All Ireland Forum has submitted its views to the UK Government on transboundary issues with regards to the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor in Somerset. (1)
The consultation comes after a ruling from the UN Espoo Convention committee that considers transboundary environmental impact assessment for large developments. It is known that a number of countries in Europe, notably Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway are participating in the consultation procedure at a governmental level as well in promoting it to local groups and individuals.
With Hinkley Point on the Irish Sea coast, the issues around the development of a new nuclear site is of real interest to Irish local authorities, who would have to put in place emergency procedures in the event of an accident, and from whom radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea remain of concern.
The core conclusions of the NFLA All Ireland Forum submission include:
- Discharges from the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear Power station could cause around 200 deaths across the globe over its 60-year lifetime.
- The radioactivity of spent fuel from Hinkley Point C would amount to around 80% of the radioactivity of waste already produced in the UK.
- This could be stored at the Hinkley Point C site until around the year 2185. A major fire in a spent fuel pond “could dwarf the horrific consequences of the Fukushima accident.”
- Energy efficient improvements could reduce the energy consumed in UK households each year the equivalent to the output of six nuclear power stations the size of Hinkley Point C.
- Offshore wind and solar are now both able to generate electricity more cheaply than nuclear power. If the UK had continued renewable expansion at the same rate as between 2010 and 2015 it could have achieved an all-renewable UK electricity supply by 2025. Therefore there is no energy need in the UK for a Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor.
The NFLA All Ireland Forum has also written to the Irish Energy Minister Denis Naughten noting its disappointment that it has not encouraged Irish groups and individuals to submit views on Hinkley Point C to the UK Government. It has also queried whether the Irish Government has submitted its views to the UK Government on Hinkley Point C. As a professed ‘nuclear free’ state, the Republic of Ireland should be more vocal with its concerns about new nuclear developments just across the Irish Sea. (2)
NFLA All Ireland Forum Chair Councillor Mark Dearey said:
“New nuclear developments such as Hinkley Point C are not needed now that renewable energy is becoming so much more cheaper, is easier to deploy and the ultimate low carbon answer to global energy needs. Irish communities have suffered the health and environmental effects of Sellafield discharges into the Irish Sea for decades now, and we don’t want or need new discharges into the sea from this proposed and unnecessary development. An accident would quite likely have major effects on Ireland so it is essential that we make these comments known. I am disappointed the Government has been so quiet on this issue in recent years. It is incumbent on it to represent the views of its people and there remains a wide cross-party consensus opposed to nuclear power in Ireland. The Government also needs to put its views forward and to make them widely known.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(2) The text of the NFLA’s letter to Minister Naughten is as follows:
I am writing to you in my capacity as co-Chairperson of the All Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities Forum, to express my grave concern and disappointment at your failure to initiate a transboundary Public Consultation Process under the Espoo Convention, on the proposed development of Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power (HPC) station in Somerset England.
A recently released report by the Espoo Implementation Committee of the Convention (1) reveals that on July 28th the UK Government invited interested neighbouring states to comment on the development activity at HPC, while providing sufficient time for states to initiate such a public consultation on the matter. To date Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Luxembourg have done so.
At this very late stage, I can only assume that you decided that it was not necessary to consult the Irish people on the development activity at HPC and on its potential transboundary impacts.
However in so deciding, I believe you have failed to avail of an opportunity to get the views of Irish citizens on the record and to convey these views to the UK authorities on a matter that will impact on our environment of generations to come.
I say this as someone who as an ordinary citizen took an action with three colleagues in 1994 against BNFL on the transboundary pollution effects of Sellafield and at the time won a significant Supreme Court verdict on the jurisdiction of the Irish Courts on transboundary pollution. (2)
Ireland has a real stake in what the British nuclear industry does, as a 2016 ESRI study shows (3), and to maintain what I can only describe a supine posture on Hinkley Point, when offered such an opportunity for public consultation is desperately disappointing.
Can you confirm in any case, that Ireland has at least taken the opportunity to comment on the matter as invited, or intends to do so before the 20th October? And if not what is the justification?
I look forward to your response on this matter.
Councillor Mark Dearey
NFLA All Ireland Forum Co Chair