Nuclear plant could have four 200m cooling towers

Bristol Evening Post, November 21, 2009

Up to three nuclear reactors and as many as four cooling towers as high as 200 metres could be built for a new atomic power station next to the Severn estuary.

Exact details are yet to be finalised by the Horizon Nuclear Power joint venture set up by power companies Eon and RWE, which wants to put the complex next to the Oldbury atomic plant near Thornbury.

They said the reactor supplier and overall number of reactors had not been determined at this stage, but if the major project goes ahead, it would use pressurised water reactor (PWR) technology.

Two reactor designs are being assessed by the UK regulator and Horizon has published a preliminary report on the potential environmental impacts of the massive development and how to address them.

The document has been issued to the newly-formed Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), which has been set up to manage the planning process for major projects such as new power stations.

The project's planning and consents manager, Tim Proudler, said: "The report allows us to share our views on the likely key environmental impacts of a new plant.

"Any feedback that we receive on this information will help us in the preparation of the environmental impact assessment that would accompany any formal planning application further down the line."

The report was drawn up after talks with bodies such as South Gloucestershire Council and the Environment Agency, and people are today able to see copies at the first of a series of public exhibitions organised by Eon and RWE, in Oldbury-on-Severn until 6pm.

Others will be in Thornbury and Berkeley, as well as on the other side of the river Severn .

Copies of the report are also available on the Eon UK website and a freephone information line has been set up on 08001 303125.

Mr Proudler said: "We had some very successful sessions earlier in the year and we recognise that people probably have many more questions about how our studies are progressing. In addition to the report, we also have more information on potential reactor designs, cooling towers and some illustrative layouts so that people can get a feel for how a new plant might be placed on the land we've nominated."

Three reactors would have a combined output of 3,300 megawatts. The height of the cooling towers could be a major issue if they are at 200 metres, which would make them visible for miles around in a sensitive environmental area.

Horizon said they could be as low as 70 metres, the height of the two reactors at the Oldbury site.

The plan would also include interim waste-storage facilities, access roads, a possible park-and- ride-type facility, flood-defence measures and options for a marine unloading jetty. A decision on the number and type of reactors will probably be made in 2010.

Matthew Riddle, the South Gloucestershire councillor for the Oldbury area, wants the IPC to be scrapped. He said it was undemocratic and denied people a proper say on a potential new atomic plant.

He said: "I think everybody can agree that any approval process needs to be fair, transparent and democratic. But the IPC will be judge, jury, interrogator and it will even decide the procedures by which local people can have their say on these important projects."

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Page Updated 25-Nov-2009