The All Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Forum welcomes the decision of the Government to launch a public consultation on the possible impact to Ireland of the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant on the south west coast of England. (1) NFLA has, along with other groups like An Taisce and the group Friends of the Irish Environment, (2) lobbied over the past five years for the government to take such an action given the amount of new nuclear reactors being planned on the Irish Sea coast.
NFLA in England and Wales has been heavily involved in challenging both the need for, and risks from, a new nuclear programme. A new UK Government National Planning Statement suggests it wishes to see new nuclear power stations not just at Hinkley Point, but also at Wylfa in Anglesey, Sellafield Moorside in Cumbria and Heysham in Lancashire, all on the Irish Sea coast (along with Bradwell and Sizewell on the Irish Sea coast and Oldbury at the mouth of the Bristol Channel).
The Government’s decision to hold a consultation relates to international law, under the Espoo and Aarhus Conventions, which encourages transboundary consultations on the environmental impacts of large developments, such as with Hinkley Point.
In October 2017, the NFLA responded to a UK Government transboundary consultation on Hinkley Point, which it had been asked to develop under the Espoo Convention. At the time. NFLA called on the Irish Government to make known its views and seek wider public engagement around it. NFLA also directly wrote to the Irish Energy Minister Denis Naughten asking him to call for a public consultation and respond directly on behalf of the Government. (3)
NFLA will be reiterating the points made in its October 2017 consultation, and make some new points. Its October 2017 response noted:
- 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. (4)
NFLA will also be encouraging all Irish Councils and environmental groups to respond to the consultation. NFLA directly put forward its views to the government and regulators at the EPA Radiation Issues Committee, through its representative Dr Paul Dorfman of UCL. Dr Dorfman has been raising at these meetings consistent concerns on the potential health, environmental and economic impacts on Ireland of a potential accident involving such new nuclear facilities, should they be built, as well as existing facilities like Sellafield.
NFLA All Ireland Forum Co Chair, Councillor Mark Dearey said:
“I welcome the Government’s decision to seek public views on the potential impact to Ireland of the proposed Hinkley Point C new nuclear power station. It has taken environmental groups a long time to achieve this, and the opportunity should not be lost for Ireland to point out the real risks that exist in the event of a major accident from such a facility, depending how the wind blows. International environmental law is there to ensure that any facility which could have a transboundary impact is considered not just in the host country but in neighbouring states. Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown us that nuclear accidents do not stop at national borders. NFLA will responding in detail and encourages the government to take a firm line on nuclear policy matters with its neighbour across the Irish Sea.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Details of Consultation, Notice in Irish Times, 20th February 2018
(2) An Taisce media release, 20th February 2018
(3) NFLA media release, 18th October 2017
(4) NFLA New Nuclear Monitor 50, 18th October 2017