The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has submitted today its views on the proposed development of a new nuclear power station at Bradwell in Essex. (1) It argues that going ahead with the construction of Bradwell B nuclear power station would be a huge error of judgement.
At present, due to the collapse of plans to develop new nuclear reactors at Wylfa in Anglesey and Sellafield Moorside in Cumbria, the UK Government’s much vaunted policy of developing nuclear power has been reduced to the development of a new reactor at Hinkley Point, and a proposed reactor at Sizewell by EDF, which is awaiting to go further to a public inquiry. The main shareholder of the proposed Bradwell site is the Chinese nuclear utility, China General Nuclear (CGN), in conjunction with EDF. The reactor design for the site is currently being considered by the Office for Nuclear Regulation, and NFLA believe local consultation should not have started until outline approval of the design has been made.
NFLA has also been surprised that CGN / EDF have continued with this consultation in the current context of the Covid-19 lockdown. Whilst the consultation closing date has been extended until the 1st July, it is still going ahead even though all public exhibitions have had to be closed, and the wider public in general will be concentrating on other important matters.
On this matter, NFLA agree with the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG): “it is preposterous to assert that there is an urgent national need for a project which cannot at the very best be operating until the 2030s. By continuing with a consultation where some communities are denied an opportunity to make their voice heard face-to-face and at a time when the population of the country is facing more immediate existential issues, is both irresponsible and reprehensible”. (2)
This first stage of local consultation allows CGN / EDF to put forward its initial plans for the site and invite comments from local Councils, residents and other interested parties. NFLA have decided to respond to the consultation in its totality, considering whether there is a ‘need’ for a new nuclear reactor.
NFLA’s concluding comments to this consultation include:
- Building the Bradwell B facility would produce the equivalent of 55% of the radioactive waste which already exists in the UK.
- Whilst those who support the CGN / EDF plans for Bradwell B argue it will benefit the challenge to tackle climate change, it could in effect actually make matters worse by diverting funds and detracting effort from cheaper and more effective climate mitigation measures. This includes the development of a wide range of renewable energy technologies, energy storage, smart energy and energy efficiency programmes.
- The construction period would be hugely disruptive to the local economy, environment and well-being of the local population.
- Given the huge advances in technologies over the past few years which can offer the required flexibility to the electricity grid – storage and demand-side management for instance – the overriding case for a comprehensive national energy efficiency programme and the growing consensus that an energy system based on 100% renewables is not only feasible, but also desirable, it is clear to NFLA that there is no ‘need’ for new nuclear.
- There are significant long-term concerns of sea-level rise and storm surges that come from climate change analysis that put added complications to the Bradwell B design.
- There are emergency planning issues relating to the issues in evacuating the Mersea Island communities that are in close proximity to the proposed Bradwell B site.
- The UK Government’s National Nuclear Policy Statement is out-of-date and does not take into account significant changes to the energy landscape in favour of renewable energy technologies.
NFLA Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“NFLA’s detailed submission to the first stage of local consultation on the proposed new nuclear reactor at Bradwell in Essex outlines that there is really no need for the development. As renewable energy drives forward across the UK, the need for new nuclear also declines year on year. Developing Bradwell B would skew the economy of east Essex and could put off other potential investors to the region. With further large volumes of highly radioactive waste produced and remaining on the site for many years as part of this development, NFLA is of the firm view that Bradwell B should not go ahead. Essex is far better served by seeking out renewable energy alternatives, energy storage, smart energy and energy efficiency projects instead.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes to Editors:
(1) NFLA New Nuclear Monitor 61 is attached with this media release.
(2) BANNG Press Release 17th April 2020