ENERGY GIANT TAKES RIGHTS TO WIND FARM

Bridgwater Times, 15 May 2008

A French energy company has drastically reduced the chances of wind turbines being built at West Hinkley and is instead expected to build more nuclear reactors.

EDF Energy has purchased the rights to the proposed windfarm at West Hinkley from Your Energy, with the aim of developing a new nuclear site nearby, expected to have one or two 1,600MW nuclear reactors.

Your Energy had negotiated the option to build the windfarm with Fairfield Estates, owned by Lady Gass, and this is due to expire next year.

EDF says it secured the land following Government indications that the sites most likely to win approval for new reactors are near existing ones.

It has not ruled out building turbines on the current site but will also consider other locations.

The news follows EDF's bid to buy British Energy, the owners of ageing Hinkley B, which would see them take control of the land on which the plant stands.

Although the sum remains undisclosed, a value of around £10bn has been reported in the national Press.

The Government owns 35 per cent of British Energy and is prepared to sell if the price is right.

Environmental campaigners have reacted angrily to the rights sale.

Stop Hinkley spokesman Jim Duffy said: "This is a sad day for the environment. It's bitterly disappointing that a clean, renewable energy source is to be squeezed out by EDF who are set on building at least one nuclear reactor."

Sedgemoor & West Somerset Green Party spokesman Charlie Graham said: "The expected loss of Somerset 's largest renewable energy project is a substantial blow to the local and regional ability to meet renewable energy targets."

Plans for up to 12 turbines at West Hinkley were rejected in 2005 after objections from British Energy and the Health and Safety Executive on safety grounds.

British Energy also objected to reduced plans for up to nine turbines on the basis that the land is more suitable for nuclear.

An EDF statement said: "EDF has been exploring possibilities at Hinkley for more than a year.

"On possible sites for new plants, the Government has indicated the most viable sites are adjacent to existing nuclear plants."

EDF indicated three years ago it was interested in investing in a new generation of UK plants.

EDF said it was 'reviewing all its options regarding the land' and is said to be looking at other sites for the wind farm in the South West.

EDF said: "We are committed to invest in around 1,000MW of UK renewable energy production by 2012."

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Page Updated 16-May-2008