BANNG can reveal that Government policy on new nuclear power is no longer valid and, consequently, the proposed Bradwell B project should be removed from the list of eight sites confirmed by Government in 2011 as ‘potentially suitable’for new nuclear power stations to be deployed by the end of 2025. Andy Blowers, Chair of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG), states: ‘There is no chance that Bradwell could be developed before about 2030, if then, so it follows that it should be delisted and alternative energy strategies put in place’.
It has become clear beyond doubt that the massive nuclear power programme projected in the National Policy Statement for Nuclear Energy (NPS) in 2011 is no longer either needed or justified by policy. Indeed, only one of the eight new nuclear power stations, Hinkley Point with a generating capacity of 3.3GW, stands any chance of making it by 2025 and, given all that has happened to that blighted project, it may fail even that target. Certainly, none of the other four candidates currently under consideration (Wylfa, Moorside, Sizewell, Bradwell) stands the remotest chance of meeting the deadline set in the NPS. The most optimistic forecasts for Sizewell suggest around 2030 and Bradwell, which is not yet even on the starting blocks, looks even further away.
BANNG has set out its views in its response to the Sizewell C Pre-application Consultation which has just finished. It concludes: ‘The idea that there could be new reactors on six of the eight sites with a combined generating capacity of 18GW by 2025 (or for that matter any other indicative date) was always in the realms of fantasy’.
The policy must be reviewed if only because any remaining justification for new nuclear power has vanished since it was seemingly set in aspic merely six years ago. In the intervening years renewable deployment of onshore and offshore wind and solar energy has gathered pace and is now far outstripping nuclear. New technologies, notably tidal, wave battery storage, are rapidly emerging. Together with a trend towards small-scale, localised power distribution systems, an energy mix fundamentally based on renewables and flexible distribution must surely spell the end of nuclear energy as part of the UK’s energy transition. To persist with a series of nuclear behemoths of the size projected for Bradwell and Sizewell means ‘the UK could be locked into an expensive, dangerous and unreliable technology placing an unwanted economic burden on the future’.
New nuclear would be more than just an economic burden on the country, it would place an intolerable burden of risk on present and future generations living near the new power stations like Bradwell and Sizewell. There is no evidence that EDF, in their Sizewell consultation document, have made a serious investigation of the potential impacts of coastal changes arising from climate change. There is little appreciation of the time-scales and the fact that highly dangerous spent fuels and other wastes will remain on these sites until well into the next century. There is a tendency to make optimistic assumptions based on assessments up to the year 2010. Beyond this there seems to be a perverse expectation that it will all be all right on the night. It would be more realistic to pronounce on the vulnerability of the fragile coast at Sizewell and the probable inundation of Bradwell. BANNG has repeatedly over the years argued that, for this reason alone, neither site should be contemplated for new nuclear power. Although comparable in terms of the existential environmental threat, especially in the long-term, the two sites are obviously different in terms of the detailed impacts on local environments.
The Sizewell project is further advanced though still has a way to go before an application for permission to develop can be put forward. And there is trenchant local opposition, supported by BANNG, to the proposals. Bradwell, as it stands, is much further away from development and has to proceed through assessment of its Chinese design reactors before it can even begin the planning application process. It is clear that the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) and its partner EDF are at a very early stage in the Bradwell project and unwilling even to divulge to the public any indication of the scale of the project or its possible impacts. It may be they have no idea or perhaps they have much they wish to hide for the time being.
Whatever the plans, it is unlikely that the impacts can be effectively ameliorated or mitigated. In BANNG’s view both Bradwell and Sizewell, if developed, ‘will be monstrous invasions with devastating consequences leaving a dangerous legacy on vulnerable coasts for generations to come’. So, at this critical juncture, CGN must be warned that it is not worth proceeding with Bradwell B, a project that, in terms of the irreparable harm it will cause, is doomed to fail.
BANNG will be leading the opposition on two fronts. One is at the local level to prevent the dangers and destruction that will be wreaked on the local communities around the Blackwater now and in the future. The other is at the national level where Andy Blowers is Co-Chair of the Government’s BEIS/NGO Nuclear Forum. ‘In the coming months BANNG will continue its campaign to oppose the Chinese nuclear project at Bradwell which threatens to destroy a precious environment and inflict harm on present and future generations. At the national level, with other protest group leaders, I shall fight to have both Bradwell and Sizewell removed from the list of nominated sites for new nuclear power stations. The Government’s policy is misguided and invalid and in need of urgent review’, said Andy Blowers.