The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes recent decisions made by councillors in two different Essex councils which are likely to have an impact on the prospects for the proposed Bradwell B new nuclear reactor. The two decisions show the important bipartisan role local authorities can play in influencing UK and Irish energy policy.
At a 20th August meeting of the Maldon Council District Planning Committee (where Bradwell B would be situated), councillors rejected for the second time a planning application to undertake further land investigations on the site, a critical stage in considering the suitability of the site for a new nuclear reactor.
The Planning Committee had unanimously rejected a first request from the site developer on the 9th August, but a second attempt was brought to the meeting on the 20th August after new legal advice was put forward, and officers recommending acceptance. At the meeting, the public was excluded from hearing the legal advice. However, after a long discussion, the Committee voted overwhelmingly to reaffirm its refusal of the land survey application, with 14 councillors in favour of refusal, 1 against and 3 abstentions.
Prior to the meeting, both the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Council had decided to stand down from their positions, and it is clear the legal advice from officers was rejected by committee councillors. The committee rejected the application as they felt it would harm an important historical area and ecology on land east of the decommissioned power station. (1) The committee is made up of Conservative and Independent councillors.
The decision follows on from a recent unanimous decision of all Colchester Borough Councillors (Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative) to formally oppose the Bradwell B development. The resolution, put forward by Council Leader Mark Cory says: “This council objects to new nuclear at Bradwell due to the local environmental impacts and prefers a focus on renewable energy alternatives.” Throughout the debate, many councillors advocated a “united front” approach to oppose the development amongst councillors and north Essex MPs. (2)
NFLA welcomes the principled support of councillors to oppose Bradwell B and agrees with them that there are significant environmental and climate change risks with such a development. NFLA have argued previously that there is no specific ‘need’ for new nuclear as renewable energy alternatives are cheaper and more easily realisable. (3)
The two decisions show the important role councillors play in the energy debate. NFLA also encourage councillors across the various councils in Suffolk to follow the bipartisan example of Maldon and Colchester councillors in reference to opposing Sizewell C as this development seeks to progress.
With a wide range of renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage solutions continuing to expand and Councils of all descriptions looking to develop them at the local level it is becoming clear the energy debate is turning against large-scale nuclear developments in favour of the real benefits of decentralised energy. (4) NFLA will continue to work hard to show these benefits with a new planned report on the local role behind a post-Covid green recovery being prepared at the moment.
NFLA is also planning an autumn public webinar on the new nuclear (large-scale and small-scale) discussion with some of the local and national groups that have played a positive role in highlighting the risks of these projects and exemplifying the renewable energy alternatives.
NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I welcome the recent bipartisan decisions made by councillors in Maldon and Colchester, who have clearly responded to the genuine concerns of the local population and community groups. NFLA is more than willing to cooperate with them in the future to highlight the ongoing risks of the Bradwell B site and the wider issues around their financing. It is time to think again about whether there is a real need for new nuclear at a time when many councils are passing climate emergency policies and developing both impressive local renewable energy schemes and other energy efficiency and energy storage projects.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for Editors:
(1) Maldon Nub News, 21st August 2020
(2) Chelmsford and Mid Essex Times, 17th August 2020
(3) NFLA New Nuclear Monitor 61, response to the CGN / EDF local consultation on proposed Bradwell B, May 2020