Stop Hinkley Press Release

24 September 2008

Response to BE takeover by EDF

Stop Hinkley campaigners have reacted angrily to today's announcement that EDF has purchased nuclear operators British Energy who own Hinkley Point B , paving the way to two new giant reactors on the West Somerset coast.

EDF have made a higher offer on the company which owns eight nuclear power stations in a move which paves the way for nuclear expansion in the west-country, particularly at Hinkley Point. EDF has already started extensive drilling at the site they have bought to the west of the existing Hinkley complex. Buying BE will allow them room to build two reactors on the West Somerset coast.

A Government public consultation exercise is currently underway to assess the factors around choosing sites. The DBERR Strategic Siting Assessment consultation invites the public to weigh up the criteria for and against any site being selected. Nuclear operators can next year nominate their favoured sites with decisions made in 2010. This process looks set to rule out factors such as flooding and closeness to areas of landscape value from the next stage which is a local appraisal by a quango, the Infrastructure Planning Commission, narrowing their remit and enabling faster progress towards new nuclear build.

Simultaneously the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is assessing the novel reactor designs which have been put forward in a process expected to take three and a half years. Two reactor designs have already been withdrawn leaving just two in the running. The Government could allow both to go through. The Westinghouse AP1000 is a 1100 Megawatt reactor and the French AREVA European Pressurised Reactor is a 1600 MW reactor currently under construction in Finland and Normandy but running over on dates and costs on both sites. The AP1000 with novel untested safety features has not yet been built anywhere.

Greenpeace has published a study by Powry energy consultants which shows that nuclear power is not needed in the UK, which can provide enough electricity from the Government's current renewables targets. Nuclear cannot help most of our energy needs as they are for domestic and office heating on one hand and transport on the other. Nor can it help with Climate Change as this requires a faster input than nuclear is capable of providing, with carbon reductions within ten years.

Jim Duffy, coordinator for Stop Hinkley said: "It's a sad day, paving the way to a nuclear expansion at Hinkley Point. The monstrous sized reactors will be a blot from the Quantock Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and they'll produce radioactive discharges into the estuary which, from our own studies, will harm the health of coastal populations nearby. High burn-up spent fuel will remain at Hinkley for decades. The Government has sewn up the planning process so we can't cross-examine the industry or bring our own experts to inquiries. But we don't need to go down this road as reports show we don't need nuclear electricity which is only a portion of the energy we use. The government's own renewables targets easily overshadow the 18 percent of electricity we get from nuclear and can do that more quickly."

He added: "I suspect local communities will be split on this controversial plan. Already trying to book halls for public meetings is difficult for us as owners say they don't want to upset their customers who work at Hinkley. Democracy will be the loser if debate is snuffed out because of fear."

Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator


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Page Updated 24-Sep-2008