Western Daily Press, 7th June 2008

The growing reality of a new nuclear power station in Somerset has sparked a mixed reaction, with supporters and detractors of a possible "Hinkley C" speaking out.

As reported in the Western Daily Press, energy giant EDF is planning to build a new facility in Hinkley within the next 10 years, creating thousands of jobs. The company has been buying up land surrounding the existing Hinkley B power station in readiness for the next stage of generating nuclear power in the UK and has already begun the process of building a station alongside the existing facility.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, the Conservative MP for Bridgwater, is in support of the plan which he says would bring a welcome economic injection to the surrounding area. Last night he said: "It would give a huge economic boost, the likes of which we haven't seen since Hinkley A and B were built. It would bring prosperity - requiring a highly skilled, well-paid workforce. I think the existing employers at Hinkley A and B have been exemplary and EDF are a highly established, very good, well-run company."

Dismissing concerns of health dangers of living next to a nuclear plant, he added: "It is extremely safe."

But Julian Plested, a committee member of Parents Concerned About Hinkley, disagreed. He said: "We would like to see investment in sustainable energies such as wind, wave and solar.

"I think it shows an incredible lack of imagination to invest in nuclear power.

"We feel nuclear power has been very problematic in the past. It takes a lot of time to decommission, it is by no means as efficient as they make out and we do feel there is evidence that it has serious health effects on people living nearby.

"Also, no one has made any plans as to what they are going to do with the nuclear waste - it is ludicrous.

"We recognise, like anyone else, we face an energy shortage, but nuclear is not sustainable and the fuel for it will eventually run out, like anything else."

The mammoth project is expected to cost at least £2.5 billion and would create about 2,300 long and short-term jobs to build and then run the new plant. Work is scheduled to start in 2012 and should take about five years to complete.

According to the energy company, the third generation reactor would produce enough power for 1.5 million homes and would have a life span of more than 50 years.

EDF has already met local planning authorities Sedgemoor District Council and West Somerset Council.

Sedgemoor corporate director Doug Bamsey said last week: "We are positive in our desire to work with EDF and any other organisation looking at the future of Hinkley."

But Jim Duffy, from the Stop Hinkley group, said: "We are worried about the hugeness of this project with its associated factors of safety and terrorism."

EDF is the leading contender in the race to take control of British Energy - the current owner of the UK 's eight nuclear power stations, which include Hinkley B. But even if EDF, which already employs about 2,500 in the region, fails in its takeover, it will still press ahead with the nuclear plans.

A spokesman said: "We have been holding talks with the local authorities involved and the first stage of the process in Somerset will be to carry out an archaeological and geological survey so we can be sure that the land is suitable for a nuclear reactor. We are also looking into options for a wind farm to sit alongside the reactor."


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Page Updated 08-Jun-2008