This month, Crispin Aubrey from the Stop Hinkley campaign reacts to EDF's plans for 'preliminary works' on their proposed new reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
EDF’s Plans to Destroy the Somerset Countryside
The French energy company Electricite de France (EDF) is about to “jump the gun” by applying to destroy over 400 acres of Somerset countryside even before it has permission to build a new power station on the site.
This would be the first nuclear power station to be constructed in the UK for about 20 years and is not a good idea for lots of reasons. Quite apart from the risks of a serious accident or a terrorist attack there will be highly radioactive waste stored next to the plant for up to 100 years after it’s finished operating. And there is still no long term disposal site anywhere in the world where this waste can be put for the thousands of years it will need to guarded against leaks or climate change.
It’s also nonsense to think that the lights will go out without nuclear power. If we save energy much more seriously and ramp up renewable sources as fast as we can, we won’t need to fall back on a risky technology.
Meanwhile, EDF plan to do all these things on those 400 acres, at present a beautiful stretch of unspoiled coastal farmland on the Bristol Channel with hedgerows and cornfields and lots of wildlife:
- Remove the majority of trees and hedges
- Close all existing footpaths
- Start excavating the foundations for the proposed nuclear reactors
- Build new roads, concrete production plants, a warehouse and water reservoirs
- Re-route underground streams
- Dig up more than 2.3 million cubic metres of soil and rocks. This would be enough to fill Wembley Stadium twice over.
- Fill in a valley with the excavated earth
- Construct a new shipping jetty out into the sea
All this is described as “preliminary works”, as if it’s insignificant. In fact it’s the start of construction of the power station itself, for which EDF hasn’t yet even applied for permission.
The company says it will restore the site to its original state if it fails to gain permission for the “Hinkley Point C” reactors. This would be impossible. You can’t recreate a landscape that has taken generations to mature.
So we don’t think EDF should be allowed to jump the gun, and hope you will support us.
The application has been made to West Somerset Council, a small rural local authority faced with a mammoth task in responding. You can register your opposition by posting an objection through this link.
Crispin Aubrey is a writer and journalist specialising in environmental issues, especially renewable energy. Until recently he was editor of "Wind Directions", the magazine of the European Wind Energy Association. He is a leading member of the Stop Hinkley campaign (www.stophinkley.org) against a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset and author of "Meltdown: The Collapse of the Nuclear Dream" (Collins & Brown, 1991).