Western Daily Press, 7th January 2008

Nuclear protesters in the West are gearing up for a battle with the Government as D-Day looms over a plan to launch a new age of atomic energy that would see a new power plant at Hinkley Point.

Ministers are expected to formally back proposals for a renewed nuclear campaign in Britain tomorrow, with Somerset 's Hinkley Point playing a major part in the programme and being chosen as a site for a new power station.

Although Business and Enterprise Secretary John Hutton is unlikely to announce the number of proposed reactors, it is likely that Hinkley along with Sizewell in Suffolk, Dungeness in Kent and Bradwell in Essex will be home to new stations.

Photo copyright Simon Chapman

Campaign group Stop Hinkley has reacted with anger to the plans and says the Government is attempting to steamroller through its nuclear agenda without considering the public.

Group member Jim Duffy said: "Hinkley is top of the list to get a new nuclear power station and it is even possible there could be two. There is some land available to the west of Hinkley that we believe could be used.

"We are extremely concerned that these plans are being pushed through.

"The Scottish Parliament has decided it will not have any more power stations built and will not allow nuclear waste to be dumped so it seems the south of England will accommodate all the new stations.

"The Government won't be announcing the specific numbers of plants it wants built but we are told it could be three or four.

"We will be making sure we fight to get our voices heard and the research we have that is based on the information of British academics."

A recently published 87-page report by Dr Paul Dorfman accuses the Government of failing to address the risks of radiation, disposal of waste and the new sites' vulnerability to terrorist attacks.

Dr Dorfman, former Secretary of the Committee Examining Radioactive Risks from Internal Emitters, said: "We are profoundly concerned that the Government's approach was designed to provide particular and limiting answers. Significant 'what-if' issues were not consulted on in a meaningful way."

The members of Stop Hinkley, along with other environmentalists and campaigners, are concerned about the health risks associated with nuclear power and say past research suggests there could be a link between the plants and higher cancer rates.

Mr Duffy said: "We are not a Nimby group. It's not that we don't want a station here, we are opposed to it in general and have very serious concerns about the health risks.

"Research we published in 2000 showed that in Burnham-on-Sea, just five miles away from the station, the breast cancer mortality rate was twice the national average.

"And when we gathered information on the incidence rate, that was found to be between 24 per cent and 33 per cent higher than the national average.

"Those are frightening statistics."

But Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in an interview yesterday: "The only way Britain can be great in the future is by people who are prepared, through thick and thin, and through bad times and good times, to take what are difficult long-term decisions, even if at times it may be easier to do simpler or less difficult things."



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Page Updated 14-Mar-2008