A letter that appeared in several local papers in June 2012
Hinkley C Construction Has Not Started
Many people living in Somerset are under the impression that construction work has already started on the proposed Hinkley “C” nuclear reactors. This is encouraged by signs along the main road from Bridgwater to Cannington which read: “Hinkley Point C Construction Site”. However, these signs, erected for developer EDF, are deliberately misleading. No construction work has started on the reactors, and EDF does not yet have permission to do so.
The French company currently has two main planning permissions in relation to the Hinkley C site. One is from West Somerset Council for “preparatory works”, originally granted by the Council last July but not brought into effect until this January. EDF has already completed most of the first phase of this work. This has involved the removal of trees and hedges, the erection of a barbed wire security fence, the creation of tracks and the closure of all rights of way, including part of the South West Coast Path. It has not yet started the major part of this preparatory work, involving the excavation of foundations for the reactors and the removal of very large quantities of soil and rocks. Originally due to begin in August, this work has now been reportedly delayed until next year.
The second permission is from Somerset County Council for “remediation work” on a large mound of spoil left over mainly from the construction of Hinkley A power station in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although this mound had remained happily undisturbed for 40 years, as soon as EDF discovered that there were amounts of (relatively non-hazardous) asbestos in the mound, the company applied to the Council to level it and remove the asbestos. This has resulted in the extensive earthworks pictured in last week's West Somerset Free Press (Friday 1 st June) and which may also give the impression that construction of Hinkley C has started.
In fact, when EDF applied to the Council for permission to carry out this work it was at pains to claim that the work had nothing to do with Hinkley C. It is, however, blindingly obvious that the work of removing and levelling this mound is essential as preparation for the land to be used for the proposed reactors and other ancillary facilities.
Meanwhile, EDF is still going through the process of applying for consent to build the reactors themselves through the National Infrastructure Directorate (known until recently as the Infrastructure Planning Commission). This process is due to end in September, but it will take at least until the beginning of 2013 for a report to be produced by the examiners and for a decision to be ratified by the government.
EDF has also yet to receive approval from the Office for Nuclear Regulation to operate the new type of French reactor proposed for Hinkley C. At the latest count only one out of 31 outstanding safety issues had been resolved to the satisfaction of the ONR.
So, to summarise, there is no permission for EDF to build a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, the type of reactor has not yet been approved and all the indications are that the enormous financing required to pay for it – with the capital cost now estimated at £14 billion - is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Stop Hinkley continues to campaign for this dangerous and expensive project to be permanently shelved.
Yours, Crispin Aubrey
Stop Hinkley, Bridgwater TA5 1EX