Nuclear campaigners take aim at Hinkley proposals

Anti-nuclear campaigners have described plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset as 'a dangerous diversion from a genuinely sustainable pathway for the UK's energy needs'.

The charge follows the submission of a development consent application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) for two reactors at the site yesterday. The Stop Hinkley campaign said that it is irresponsible for developer EDF Energy to pursue the scheme, especially after this spring’s Fukushima accident in Japan.

"Nuclear power is unsafe, expensive, leaves a legacy of radioactive waste for future generations and is a dangerous diversion from a genuinely sustainable pathway for the UK’s energy needs," said the Stop Hinkley campaign in a statement.

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said last week that the generic design assessment for the reactor type planned for Hinkley Point has been amended so that safety lessons from the Fukushima incident are learned. The company has also taken on board experience from new-build projects in France, China and Finland, he said.

The IPC now has four weeks to decide whether to accept the application for formal examination. EDF is not planning to make further announcements until the commission reaches a view.

However, De Rivaz said last week that the company will begin work to prepare the site next spring, unlocking almost £30 million worth of mitigation measures and contributions to the local planning authorities.

Somerset County Council cabinet member for strategic planning and economic development David Hall said: "We wait with interest to see what the final proposals entail and look forward to further discussions with EDF and the IPC to ensure we get the best possible outcome for Somerset."

Stop Hinkley also claimed that if approved, Hinkley Point C would cause up to ten years of road chaos and disruption in local area. It called on EDF to rethink its refusal to fund construction of a bypass round Bridgwater.

Last month Sedgemoor District Council and West Somerset Council adopted supplementary planning guidance documents setting out their stance on associated development needed to service the Hinkley C plant.

The two authorities are resisting EDF’s plans for temporary accommodation at Hinkley Point and in Bridgwater for construction workers. They argue that permanent homes should be built, which could be occupied by local people once the construction phase is over.

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