NFLA All Ireland Forum agrees to:
– raise safety concerns with incidents between UK submarines and fishing trawlers with the EPA
– calls on Irish Government to challenge Hinkley Point new nuclear deal
– calls for renewed effort to deliver decentralised energy across Ireland
At the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) All Ireland Forum autumn meeting in Dundalk Town Hall, County Louth, members called for a renewed safety drive after hearing of a long list of collisions and near collisions between fishing trawlers and nuclear powered submarines over the past 20 years. (1)
Members raised real concerns that more Irish fishermen could lose their lives if government and the International Maritime Organisation do not actively enforce exclusion zones between trawlers and submarines. NFLA are actively working with South Down MP Margaret Ritchie and other politicians across Ireland and Britain to seek answers from Ministers about what is being done to protect our fisheries industry from accidents and potential sinking incidents.
The seminar heard more detail from independent marine consultant Tim Deere-Jones of an April incident involving a UK nuclear submarine with the trawler ‘MV Karen’ 18 miles off the County Down coast port of Ardglass. A major and potentially fatal incident was only averted by the quick thinking of the crew in cutting their nets. Tim Deere-Jones highlighted a number of other similar incidents across the Irish Sea, English Channel and Northern Atlantic Ocean over the past 2 decades, some of which have included tragic fatalities. Sinn Fein Councillor Tom Cunningham provided an eyewitness account of the MV Polaris, being dragged at speed by a submarine, an incident he was personally involved in whilst working on the trawler some 20 years ago.
The meeting agreed it was important to raise the concerns of fishing communities with the UK Government and to urge the Irish Government to do likewise. Dr Paul Dorfman, NFLA’s representative to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Radiation Advisory Committee, also promised to bring these incidents to the EPA’s attention.
The seminar also provided councillors with an update on the UK new nuclear build debate and the potential risks to Ireland if nuclear reactors are built at Hinkley Point, Wylfa and Sellafield Moorside. It noted concerns with the reduction of renewable energy subsidies in the UK and called on these to be reversed. Councillors called on both Irish Governments to challenge the huge levels of public finance for the Hinkley Point new nuclear deal and the environmental and safety risks to Ireland from new nuclear build. It also called for the publication of the Government’s Energy White Paper as a matter of urgency and argued that it needed to concentrate on decentralised community-orientated low carbon renewable energy schemes focused around Councils and the communities they represent.
NFLA All Ireland Co Chair Councillor Mark Dearey said:
“It was shocking to hear of the number of collision and near collisions that have occurred to fishing trawlers around the coasts of Ireland and of the Ministry of Defence failing those families afterwards by denying any knowledge for reasons of national security. NFLA will be contacting our own government and the UK Government to improve safety for our fishing community and will lobby the International Maritime Organisation, for tougher sanction when these types of dangerous, sometimes fatal, incidents occur.
“I am also pleased the meeting agreed to challenge UK new nuclear build with all the risks it poses to Ireland. With Greece today joining Austria and Luxembourg in the legal challenge to the European Commission over Hinkley C, I am calling again for our own Government to reconsider its position and join the legal challenge. Relations between the two countries have never been better according to An Taoiseach. But that is not a reason to ignore the threat of Hinkley C or the outrageous level of state intervention being promised by the British Government to make it a reality. (2)
“It is clear to me that there is a real need to involve Councils more directly in engaging with renewable energy companies to produced decentralised, low carbon energy more attuned to the needs and requirements of the communities we represent.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 0161 234 3244 or 07771 930196 or Tim Deere-Jones can be contacted on 01834 871011.
Notes for editors:
(1) Presentations given at the NFLA All Ireland Forum meeting, Dundalk, 30th October. The presentations will be placed on the NFLA website (http://www.nuclearpolicy.info) shortly, and are available from the NFLA Secretariat.
(2) Politico.eu, 3rd November 2015 http://www.politico.eu/pro/greece-backs-austrian-opposition-to-uks-hinkley-nuclear-plant/