Firms urged to build new nuclear reactors in Bristol area

Western Daily Press, Thursday, September 25, 2008

Three new nuclear reactors could be built near Bristol in the next 10 years.

The Government is keen for private companies to expand Britain 's nuclear capacity and is inviting power firms to come forward with proposals.

Yesterday, French company EDF announced a £12.5 billion takeover of British Energy, which operates nuclear power stations around the country, including Hinkley Point B in Somerset.

EDF wants to build four new nuclear reactors in the UK and two could be at Hinkley.

These would each provide about 1.6 gigawatts of energy - enough to power a city the size of Bristol - and could be up-and-running by 2017.

Patches of suitable land at other nuclear sites around the country, including Oldbury in South Gloucestershire, are also set to be put up for sale.

Companies are being invited to nominate sites they are interested in, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which owns land around Oldbury, wants to sell.

No companies have yet expressed official interest in running a new nuclear power station in South Gloucestershire. But energy giant E.ON, which wants to build two reactors in the UK, has signed an agreement to become connected to the national grid in Oldbury.

Hinkley Point B became operational in 1971 and is expected to run until 2011, while Oldbury is due to be shut down some time next year.

In January, the Government said nuclear power would play a key part in the future of carbon-free energy provision for Britain. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "New nuclear is becoming a reality.

"Nuclear is clean, secure and affordable. Its expansion is crucial for Britain 's long-term energy security, as we reduce our oil dependence and move towards a low-carbon future."

The news was greeted with anger by anti-nuclear groups.

Jim Duffy, spokesman for the Stop Hinkley group, said: "It's a sad day. The Government has sewn up the planning process so we can't cross-examine the industry or bring our own experts to inquiries.

"But we don't need to go down this road as reports show we don't need nuclear electricity, which is only a portion of the energy we use.

"I suspect local communities will be split on this controversial plan. Already, trying to book halls for public meetings is difficult for us as owners say they don't want to upset their customers who work at Hinkley. Democracy will be the loser if debate is snuffed out because of fear."

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Page Updated 25-Sep-2008