Energy and Climate Change Committee hear from
Pobl Atal Wylfa B and Stop Hinkley on
Proposals for National Policy Statements on Energy

Wed, 27 January 10 | DeHavilland Report - Parliamentary Committee

Summary
The Infrastructure Planning Commission should take into account the wider environmental, health and commercial impacts before deciding on which nuclear sites to develop, MPs heard today.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee held a meeting as part of its inquiry into Proposals for National Policy Statements on Energy and took evidence from:

  • Dr Carl Clowes, Pobl Atal Wylfa B
  • Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley

The meeting began with Dr Clowes expressing his concern about the remit of the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) not including the increased radioactive nature and the disposal of waste generated at the Wylfa site, along with its lasting economic impact. The rejection of the proposal for an inquiry into this from the Welsh minister responsible appeared to Dr Clowes as being contrary to the democratic process.

Correspondence sent to his organisation by the Welsh Assembly Government indicated their belief that there was no need for new nuclear sites in Wales, Dr Clowes told the Committee, and was acting as a distraction to the development of alternative renewable energy sources.

On the location of the Wylfa site Dr Clowes remarked that it was near a RAF base and could be the subject of a terrorist attack or other untoward incident in the next 160 years. In addition, it did not appear that any consideration had been given to how to evacuate the site and the surrounding area in the event of an emergency, Dr Clowes added.

The impact and reduction of Welsh speakers as a result of the migration into the area of workers on Wylfa A had not been considered in the National Policy Statements (NPSs) and Dr Clowes believed that this cultural point needed to be addressed.

It appeared perverse to Dr Clowes that the new nuclear build would be transmitting energy supplies to areas two hundred kilometres away in the North West of England, and as a result there would be power loss in transmitting energy over such a distance.

A major new nuclear development would have major impact on tourism and coastal access Dr Clowes asserted.

Adequate alternatives were available that were safer, cheaper and more sustainable, and Dr Clowes said these could be developed and operational sooner than a new nuclear site.

Mr Duffy said that he had concerns about the consultation process, including the timing, poor advertising and remote location of the public meetings about the Hinkley site. The meeting was poorly attended and the location was such that it could not be accessed by public transport, Mr Duffy added, and no public meetings took place in Bristol , Taunton , Minehead or Weston-super-Mare .

Furthermore, Mr Duffy expressed his concern about the role of the IPC and that the consultation on NPS would close before a medical study on the potential health risks was published. The possible adverse health impact, together with the potential terrorist risk, was a worry to Hinkley residents, Mr Duffy remarked.

Whilst there was marginal support for a new nuclear site, this was dependent on the consultation process being transparent and fair, and Mr Duffy did not believe that to have been the case.

Following the witnesses' opening statements, acting Committee Chair and Labour MP, Dr Alan Whitehead asked Dr Clowes if consideration for the suitability of nuclear sites was made within the NPSs, in particular whether Wylfa B would be considered a suitable site on geological and seismological grounds.

Dr Clowes believed that Wylfa should be struck from the list on such grounds, and furthermore the additional environmental and health concerns should be taken into account as well as the impact on tourism in the area.

Labour MP Colin Challen picked up on the issue of the health concerns and asked if the problem was solely inside the Hinkley power station or whether it extended to the surrounding area.

In reply, Mr Duffy said that reports published by the Somerset Health Authority in the 1980s had indicated high instances of leukaemia in people under the age of 25 over a seventeen year period. The Stop Hinkley organisation had also conducted and published studies in this area, and Mr Duffy also had inside information from speaking to people that worked in the NHS.

SNP MP Mike Weir shifted the discussion onto the poorly attended public meeting organised by DECC on the proposed Hinkley site and asked what the level of advertising had been to raise the public awareness of the meetings.

As far as Mr Duffy was aware there had been notification of the meetings in some local weekly newspapers and on local radio stations but the problem was that the Government announcement was made only ten days before the meeting took place, which left little time for people to make alternative arrangements if they wanted to attend the meeting.

The next question was posed by the Labour MP, David Anderson who wanted to know if there was any evidence to show that the nuclear waste produced at Wylfa would be twice as hot and twice as radioactive.

An expert on the subject had said that the fuel was burnt for twice as long and to a higher capacity, consequently becoming twice as radioactive, Dr Clowes replied. He suggested that this was an attempt by the companies to increase productivity. Mr Duffy added that American academics had also written about this phenomenon.

 

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Page Updated 21-Feb-2010