PROTESTERS' FEARS OVER SURVEILLANCE

Bridgwater Times, 15 August 2008

Nuclear power protest group Stop Hinkley says it is not a 'terrorist' organisation and should be allowed to protest in peace.

Campaigners fear that an increase in the number of armed 'nuclear police' will restrict their protests against developments at the Hinkley Point power station.

Jim Duffy of Stop Hinkley spoke out following speculation in the national press that a massive expansion of the civil nuclear constabulary (CNC) is being planned to protect power stations.

He is aware that police check out the group's website and has received calls from police at an early stage when protests might be likely.

Mr Duffy said: "At one time we could put on peaceful demonstrations without hindrance, even after September 11. Now we feel very closely watched, but we are obviously not terrorists.

"We were stopped four times while filming about Hinkley C last year and were called two weeks ago to give details of our plans to demonstrate against the sale of British Energy to French-owned EDF.

"Guarding against terrorism is one thing but there seems to be another agenda. With the big ongoing protest at Kingsbridge coal power station in Kent , I can see the Government wants to put people off these gatherings even though they are lawful and peaceful.

"But expanding the powers of these guards is not the way to resolve people's concerns about climate change or nuclear power. A sustainable energy policy would be better."

Supt Gary Slater of CNC, commenting on Mr Duffy's claims that Stop Hinkley is watched, said: "It comes as no surprise. We visit a number of websites as part of a straightforward intelligence exercise and we do that normally of sites that are available to us. It keeps us up-to-date with the latest issues.

"In relation to demonstrations, CNC recognises the rights of all individuals and organisations to demonstrate peacefully and our stance on that has never changed.

"We are certainly not going to interfere with demonstrations."

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary was established in 2004 to protect licensed civil nuclear sites and to safeguard nuclear material in transit with the headquarters in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Hinkley Point is one of 17 locations in the UK patrolled by the CNC's 750 police officers and staff.

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Page Updated 15-Sep-2008