PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE USE 23 Nov 2010
EDF Energy slammed for cruelty to badgers:
pressure group warns of future safety risks at nuclear power plant
Energy giant EDF Energy has been blasted for breaching conservation guidelines and forcing a colony of badgers off land earmarked for a controversial nuclear power station. And environmentalists warn that future corner-cutting could put lives at risk if construction of the two new reactors in Somerset gets the green light.
According to the Badger Trust, the legally-protected animals should only be moved ‘as a last resort'. However, EDF Energy has begun blocking off the badgers' burrows or ‘setts' - even though the company has not yet applied for planning permission for the 400-acre Hinkley C power station.
‘This is a clear warning of how EDF Energy intends to operate in the future,' says Nancy Birch, spokeswoman for the anti nuclear energy campaign, Kick Nuclear. ‘The company is using its commercial muscle to cut corners. At the moment it's badgers that are suffering. But our concern is that the same attitude may cause people to suffer if Hinkley C gets the go-ahead and there is an accident or radioactive leak.'
Spokesman for the Badgers Trust, Jack Reedy, said badgers can suffer distress and violence if they are dislodged. “If it's not done very carefully, it can be very stressful for the animals and unbelievably cruel,' he explained. ‘There is no guarantee they will use artificial setts and if the badgers try to move in with a new colony, they can fight and sustain quite severe injuries.'
Kick Nuclear, has slammed EDF Energy for persuading environmental watchdog, Natural England, to grant a premature licence to block off the setts. Natural England 's policy guidelines state that it will only issue a licence, ‘after detailed planning permission has been granted.' However EDF Energy has already been given the go-ahead – even though the company has not yet formally applied for planning permission.
Nancy Birch points out that nuclear energy generation is dangerous and difficult to control. ‘The safety of the British public can't be assured when we see EDF Energy behaving in this way,' she says.
Natural England claim that the Hinkley project is ‘an exceptional' case and that granting an early licence will avoid delays in planning applications and construction. But as Nancy points out, ‘Natural England is meant to protect wildlife – not the interests of powerful multinationals. They must share responsibility for the cruelty being imposed on these poor creatures.'
In recent months, there has been a growing wave of opposition to the new reactor. In October, local protestors blockaded the entrance to the current reactor site at Hinkley Point in Somerset . Meanwhile a new campaign was recently launched calling for a Boycott of EDF Energy across the UK .
‘Deep concern about the storage of large amounts of radioactive waste at Hinkley has not been resolved and the development of Hinkley C is by no means cut and dried,' says Nikki Clark a member of Somerset-based campaign group, Stop Hinkley. ‘With such a dangerous form of energy, EDF should be showing best practice at every stage. Their approach to the local badger population does not bode well for the future.'
Natural England has said that if planning permission were to be refused, the badgers would be allowed to return to their original burrows. In response Nikki says, ‘This is no consolation to the badgers. The damage has been done and clearly demonstrates EDF Energy's contempt for wildlife. There is a good chance that there will be no Badgers left to return to the burrows .'
Despite being the national experts in the protection of badgers, the Badger Trust says it was not consulted over the removal of badgers from the site.
For more information, contact Nancy Birch at Kick Nuclear on: 07506-006597