At a meeting of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Welsh Forum in Bridgend Council Offices, members expressed support for local authorities developing decentralised energy polices in Wales instead of new nuclear development. The meeting also heard concerns over the environmental impact to Wales of radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea as a clear warning to the dumping of large levels of contaminated water to the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima disaster.
The meeting heard presentations from the NFLA Secretary and from Gareth Clubb, Director of Friends of the Earth Wales / Cymru, which highlighted that it would be a major energy policy mistake for Wales to develop either a large new nuclear reactor at Wylfa Newydd or a small new nuclear reactor at Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd. (1)
Both presentations provided increasing evidence that developing a wide renewable energy mix was much more cost effective than new nuclear reactors, who would additionally generate large levels of high burn-up radioactive waste that could remain on Welsh sites for over 160 years.
Instead, the benefits of local authority and community cooperative decentralised energy were brought forward. The NFLA have launched the ‘Get if from the Sun’ or GIFTS initiative, which encourages local authorities and local communities to continue to seek ways to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency and microgeneration projects despite central government subsidy cutbacks. (2) The ‘Re-energising Wales’ initiative was also advocated – this project encourages a much more comprehensive and ambitious take-up of renewables and decentralised energy within Wales. (3)
A useful case study of how Bridgend Council was developing decentralised energy, particularly in the area of heat networks, was also provided to the meeting.
Independent marine radioactivity consultant Tim Deere-Jones concluded the meeting by highlighting the impacts to the Welsh coastal environment, of radioactive liquid waste discharges to sea from both existing and new-build Nuclear Installations. Marine radioactivity from nuclear power stations and re-processors transfers from the sea to the Welsh terrestrial coastal zone by means of a number of mechanisms including coastal flooding and blowing across the surf line in sea spray and marine aerosols in onshore winds. This can drive marine radioactivity by as much as ten miles inland.
In Wales, such mechanisms deliver dietary and lung doses to human populations by way of inhalation and the consumption of contaminated locally grown agricultural and horticultural foodstuffs.
The presentation also noted that, in the context of ongoing proposals to discharge over 800,000 tonnes of stored radioactive water from the Fukushima site into the Pacific Ocean, the lessons learned from the impact of discharges on the Irish Sea environments and coastal populations should provide a major warning about the negative impacts of following a similar course at Fukushima. (4)
NFLA Welsh Forum Co Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
The NFLA firmly believes that the Welsh Government should be given full devolved powers in energy policy, but that they should use such powers to move away from their support of new nuclear facilities and embrace rather renewables and decentralised energy. The government should give Welsh local authorities the resources and the expertise to drive a new local energy revolution. Wylfa Newydd and small nuclear reactors at Trawsfynydd are not the answer to the future energy needs of our country. The government should also organise more independent testing of the marine environment along the long Welsh coastline to understand better the amounts of, and effects of, radioactivity that lay there from decades of discharges into the Irish Sea.”
For more information contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) The presentations from the NFLA Wales Forum seminar in Bridgend Civic Offices can be found on the NFLA website https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/presentations/nfla-welsh-forum-seminar-bridgned-county-borough-council-offices-17th-june.
(2) Information on the ‘Get if from the Sun’ (GIFTS) initiative is available from –
(3) See joint open letter to Welsh Assembly Members by the ‘Re-energising Wales’ coalition to the Western Mail, ‘Phase out fossil fuels, embrace green future’, 25th May 2016
(4) NFLA Radioactive Waste Policy Briefing 62, Fukushima and the possible dumping of large levels of tritiated water into the Pacific Ocean, April 2016