Stop Hinkley Press release

19th October 2010

Response to Huhne announcement on nuclear and tidal power

Today the Government issued a 300 page document as a re-run of the earlier Nuclear Policy Statement (NPS) but little has changed with Chris Huhne supporting a list of sites including Hinkley Point for new nuclear build. Three sites - two in Cumbria - Braystones and Kirkstanton - and Dungeness in Kent - were removed and three potential sites including Kingsnorth in Kent were decided to be unsuitable.

It was agreed that the so-called 'Interim Storage Facilities' at new nuclear sites like Hinkley could be questioned as planning issues under the fast-track planning system. Previously it was indicated they were not up for discussion. The NPS unconvincingly tries to deny that the spent fuel may not need to remain under water in an interim store for as long as 160 years as the fuel assemblies could be re-jigged to reduce their total radioactive inventory. But the document does not disagree that the high burn' fuel from EdF's proposed Hinkley reactors is twice as hot and twice as radioactive as from standard Pressurised Water Reactors such as Sizewell B.

The document also highlighted the even more worrying prospect of transporting the spent fuel while it is still very radioactive to a central storage site. This would repeat the current controversial arrangement of trucking the dangerous spent fuel through Bridgwater and onwards through other communities but the waste would be much more radioactive than current spent fuel from Hinkley B.

The viability of Government plans for the eventual disposal of nuclear waste was a closed subject as, controversially, the Government believes the 'Deep Geological Facility' will one day become a reality. The process is currently part of a 'volunteerist' scheme but only one area - Cumbria - has put itself forward and may pull out at any stage. A recent geological report appears to show that many parts of Cumbria are unsuited to a deep repository. So Hinkley and other sites may in fact be permanently left with the waste.

The Severn Estuary tidal scheme has been scrapped due to costs.

Crispin Aubrey, spokesman for Stop Hinkley said:

"It's a terrible shame that the government has abandoned funding for the Severn Barrage without completing its consideration of the potential. There are a range of options available, including the tidal reef proposal, which unlike the Tidal Barrage would pose no threat to the estuary's birds or fish, while producing more electricity. Any of these proposals would have made a substantial contribution to the country's electricity supply.

But this is no justification for giving the green light to nuclear at Hinkley. All the safety issues haven't suddenly gone away: health, accidents, terrorism plus the risks of radioactive waste being stored on the site for up to 100 years after the power stations stops operating.

The barrage is also not the only renewable game in town. The largest offshore wind farm in the world, for instance, has just started operating off the coast of Kent . An even larger wind farm is proposed for the Severn Estuary. We now have 5 Gigawatts of wind power up and running in the UK , and a lot more ready to go up. On 16th September a full ten percent of the UK 's electricity was produced by renewables.

All this has happened whilst nuclear has done nothing. The last nuclear power station was opened in Britain more than 20 years ago. Why? Because its costs and risks are too great for any company to consider it without public subsidy. Stop Hinkley believes that nuclear is the failed energy solution of the past, and clean, risk-free renewables are the future."

Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator



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Page Updated 19-Oct-2010