Press Release – 24 August, 2020
Maldon District Councillors, at a second time of asking, have pressed home their overwhelming rejection of Chinese developer CGN’s application for land investigations in connection with a proposed new nuclear power station at Bradwell.
Chair of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG), Prof. Andy Blowers, commented: ‘Maldon has long been a supporter of new nuclear power at Bradwell and this refusal deals another blow to CGN’s hopes of building their own reactors in the UK at the site’.
The application was first turned down on July 9. At a Special Meeting on August 20, convened in the wake of a second meeting a week previously on August 13, which ended in uproar, the District Planning Committee voted overwhelmingly by fourteen for, one against and three abstentions, to put a brake on Chinese ambitions in the Blackwater and Dengie.
The Council’s former leadership, who had resigned before the meeting, with their Officers had fought a long rearguard action, including seeking legal advice, to safeguard the Council’s long-held policy of supporting new nuclear power at Bradwell in principle. Although the application at stake was for land investigations, which arguably should be judged on their own merit, it was clear they would pave the way for the Chinese-designed, mega power station with all bells and whistles, covering 230 ha. at the exposed eastern tip of the Dengie Peninsula. The industrial colossus would include reactors, long-term spent fuel stores, turbines, port facilities, cooling towers and tunnels into the estuary, accommodation blocks, new roads, transmission towers and major defensive works and landscaping, all imposing a grotesque and frightening industrial complex on the communities around the Blackwater.
The grounds for the Council’s rejection were narrowed down to two specific issues. One, that the development would detrimentally impact on the historic and archaeological environment, and, two, that it would have negative impacts on important ecological assets and protected species resulting from noise, vibration and disturbance.
In pressing for refusal of Planning Permission, the members were, in effect, signalling their disapproval of the whole Bradwell project. Speaking about the scale of the investigations, Cllr. Kevin Lagan commented: ‘So, it’s like them asking to do the ground works for a swimming pool for the Loch Ness Monster. A monster that we don’t know how big or small it is – and we don’t even know if it exists!’.
In effect the land investigations, consisting of around 250 boreholes and a substantial load test pit, would cause extensive disruption, noise and damage for a project that might never materialise.
There was clear disappointment at the decision on the part of officials whose advice had been rejected. They had provided legal advice, taken in secret, which presumably had urged Councillors to secure expert and robust evidence sufficient to defend the decision in the likely event of an appeal.
For opponents of Bradwell B the Council’s action is so far, so good. A minor victory in a much bigger war has been achieved and Maldon District Council is beginning to get its ducks in line to oppose the whole project. The Council is still burdened by policies developed by the old guard which ruled until recently. The Local Development Plan proclaims that ‘the Council will strongly support the principle of the development of a new nuclear power station at Bradwell-on-Sea’. And, Maldon District along with Essex County Council was generally supportive of the proposals put forward by CGN in the recent Stage 1 public consultation on plans for the new power station.
The next step must be to reverse the Council’s pro-nuclear stance, withdraw its favourable response to CGN’s plans and give political leadership along with local groups like BANNG and Bradwell B Action Network (BBAN) and Colchester Borough Council to defeat the plans and remove the threat of a massive Chinese built and controlled nuclear power station towering over the Blackwater estuary and the Dengie.
A spokesperson for BANNG commented after the virtual meeting. ‘While BANNG is much heartened by the latest developments at Maldon District Council, we are well aware there’s a long way to go. But, CGN has endured a number of recent setbacks in its ambitions and, in the long run, may not have the stomach for the fight ahead’.
For further information, please contact:
Varrie Blowers, BANNG Secretary & Press Officer
Tel: +44(0)7932 644482