Take a map of Mersea Island and mark on it not one, not two, but three building applications. Then stand back to an overview of the River Blackwater, and mark the proposed Bradwell B outline on it as well. Brierley Paddocks has been accepted; Dawes Lane Application is in process; Colchester Road application is gathering comments on CBC website, and there is no common forum for us to discuss things amongst ourselves.
It is almost intolerable that there are so many massive, impending developments threatening our island, and no apparent answer as to how to deal with it. Community communications have ground to a halt unless you are on facebook. No local newspaper, no posters, no mass gatherings, everyone sidetracked by covid-19, and developers are snapping at us. It is such an incredibly frustrating situation.
Bradwell B has spent a huge amount of money on a glossy brochure and appears to have sent one to every household on Mersea Island. The diagrams indicate how much the proposed new Bradwell will be in our faces. Imagine driving down any one of the island’s avenues and the horizon would be power station. There are indications that the river will be busy with large vessels bringing in materials for decades, whilst the build is underway. There will be protrusions into the river that will make the old baffle wall look puny. The leisure industry – sailing, racing, camping, fishing groups – will suffer horribly. It is entirely possible that the fishing and oyster business will also be ruined. Mersea Island as we know it will be deeply and negatively affected.
However, It is Not Yet a Done Deal for the New Nuclear Power Station at Bradwell
If you received the impressive glossy Bradwell B Consultation Document you might be forgiven for thinking this is a done deal and it only remains for you to request your preferred choices of detail before July 1 2020.
This is far from the truth.
New public awareness of the proposed massive Bradwell B development has aroused grave concerns and questions at a time when we have a severely restricted ability to publicly discuss and understand the implications of this huge project on our doorstep.
Should the Bradwell B consultation even be continued under these circumstances?
Fifteen public exhibitions were originally planned but only five were completed before coronavirus put a stop to the remaining ten. We strongly believe the consultation process must be put on hold at least until it is safe to resume and complete the remaining ten public exhibitions when conditions allow.
Bradwell B asserts it is urgent that they continue the consultation now without the remainder of the planned exhibitions taking place at all, using an online ‘virtual exhibition’ and a booked telephone call instead. But experience has proved this to be very poor quality substitute which few may persist in trying to successfully arrange. Why does Bradwell B insist it is urgent to continue at this time?
The project, if ever permitted, would not be completed until the mid to late 2030’s so waiting a few months or even longer would be a small price to pay in order to ensure the public could fully participate with public meetings and discussions which are so much more effective than the offered alternative.
Consultation has no provision for questioning the requirement for new nuclear power
Study of the BRB consultation documents shows they only want feedback on the specific options they propose, and they do not intend to consider any feedback on the claimed need for this huge, disruptive and potentially hazardous long term project which must be safely protected with all its used spent radioactive fuel until the mid-twenty second century, or even longer if the UK still has not built a new underground repository for all our highly toxic nuclear waste. All the existing medium and high level nuclear waste from Sellafield would get first priority for the repository so the need for 200 years storage at Bradwell or longer is a real possibility.
The justification for a new nuclear power station at Bradwell was partly based on a 2005 government white paper forecasting 15% electricity demand growth in the UK by 2020, but electricity demand has actually fallen by 16%.
Hot Press – Today May 7th News. Sizewell B nuclear power station is being paid to reduce output by 50% because there is no need for so much electricity in the grid.
The need for additional nuclear generation was also overestimated because renewables have been able to contribute a far greater share than was forecast. Nuclear construction costs have more than trebled during this period. This will make new nuclear generated electricity the most expensive for users and has caused the cancellation of a number of other UK nuclear schemes.
By contrast renewable electricity generation costs have fallen considerably over the last 15 years. They have a much shorter lead time, are more environmentally friendly and come without the hazards and spent fuel storage and disposal problems of nuclear.
In 2009 the government listed 8 UK sites suitable for new nuclear development before 2025 in order to ‘prevent the lights going out’. BradwellB is included but considered to be only ‘potentially suitable’ for new nuclear, due to increasing site vulnerability from storm surge and rising sea level risks. The Bradwell site has not yet been designated suitable for development after 2025, but this must be in place for BRB to go ahead. A new designation will need to consider carefully that predictions for climate change and sea level rise for Bradwell have worsened since 2009. Conditions beyond 100 years’ time are unknowable, yet the site and its stored nuclear waste must still be safely protected; also, since 2009 the Blackwater Estuary has been granted additional environmental protection as a Marine Conservation Zone. This should not permit any use of the estuary for power station cooling with marine ecology damage to protected species, which are still recovering from Bradwell A. The BRB proposals indicate the scale of damage to the Dengie Peninsula, its environment and the communities around the area if a green light is ever given to this unneeded, unwelcome, hazardous, very expensive very long- term project. Only assumed benefits receive much coverage.
It is not surprising that the consultation offers no views on the implications of including a secretive communist dictatorship with world domination aspirations into the mix as a designer, developer and probable site operator. There would need to be a harmonious and open relationship over a very long time scale or we could be left to pick up the pieces.
What can you do?
1) If you oppose this project, or just the unnecessary rush to press on with the consultation instead of delaying until the original ten public exhibitions have taken place, then we recommend you respond to the BRB consultation with your views and not just the views requested. The closure date for your BRB Consultation response is currently Wednesday 1 July 2020
2) Write to your local council, councillors and MP.
3) There is an online petition from ‘Bradwell Against Nuclear’ (BAN) opposing the power station which you can sign: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302971
4) You could respond to the Environment Agency Consultation on the BRB groundworks water transfer and discharge applications. This is essential permission to enable more extensive deep groundwork investigations to take place and closes 15 June 2020.
5) Maldon District Council intends to grant approval for the invasive BRB groundworks which are in a protected area, and relate to a development not yet approved or needed. You may not be too late to influence your MDC councillors, depending on publication date.
Written for Mersea Life magazine by Barry Turner and Faith Richardson, Mersea Island Society
Mersea Island Society