SH complaint over local nuke plan

Chew Valley Gazette, November 2009, Page 5

A new Government quango, the Infrastructure Planning Commission has declared Hinkley C, in Somerset , as one of its first tranche of planning projects.

The IPC requires applicants, such as EdF who want to build two giant nuclear reactors at the Hinkley site, to ensure they consult the public thoroughly on the project.

But campaigners are unhappy with a deliberately speeded-up process which they claim does not allow fair scrutiny by cross-examination, as occurred at the 1988-89 Hinkley C inquiry held in Cannington near Hinkley Point and also in South Wales .

Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator said: ."We are disappointed that the IPC has chosen Hinkley C as one of its first tranche of projects for examination. We would have preferred the fairer public inquiry system where we could cross-examine industry and government witnesses.

"The new system does not seem to allow the depth of questioning that we previously had and which revealed the damning costs of nuclear power at the 1988-89 Hinkley C inquiry. That revelation made the Conservative government abandon any further plans for new reactors including Hinkley C, despite their earlier aspiration to build ten"

"Hinkley C still has a lot of hurdles to jump before it becomes a reality. The nuclear safety regulators will not grant an operating licence before June 2011 at the earliest.

"This may be delayed further as they have signalled their dissatisfaction with EdF's reactor design's Control and Instrumentation system which crucially governs everything from conventional workings to emergency shut down systems. Another important hurdle is the EU 'Justification' process whereby the disadvantages to the public of radiation being emitted into the environment from a new scheme must be balanced against any advantages.

"We have been pressing for a public inquiry on this matter as there is much evidence that cancers are linked to routine radioactive discharges.

"Moreover the decision lies with the Secretary of State for Energy, Ed Milliband who has already shown his strong bias towards the nuclear industry"

"EdF hope to get Hinkley C running by 2018 but their first two EPR reactors currently being built in Finland and Normandy are running three and two years late respectively. The Finnish builders at Olkiluoto are in a legal battle with the French designers over a 3 billion Euro cost overrun"

"We would encourage anyone who wants to express their concerns through the new planning system to get advice at one of the South West Planning Aid meetings held in Bridgwater, Burnham and Stogursey in November"

"There is history here. In the 1980s the Hinkley Point site was the proposed construction site for a new nuclear power station by the then - Central Electricity Generating Board. Opposition was co-ordinated by a body called COLA, the Consortium of Opposing Local Authorities.

"Prominent members were Sedgemoor and West Somerset councils. It was the subject of a lengthy, and bitter, public inquiry. And, lest we forget, that power station was never built"

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Page Updated 13-Nov-2009