Maldon District Council’s suggestion that Small Modular Reactors could be considered for Bradwell flies entirely in the face of its recent pronouncements.
At its meeting on 17 December, Maldon District Council (MDC) voted by a majority of one in favour of a recommendation from its Bradwell B Working Group to send a letter to the local MP, John Whittingdale, and to the Head of Nuclear Development at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in support of the development of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).
The Council discussed a suggestion from the Working Group that if the current proposals for a new nuclear power station failed and the Government continued to consider Bradwell as a potentially suitable site for new nuclear development, SMR technology could be considered as an option for the site in preference to conventional nuclear development.
‘We find this suggestion flies entirely in the face of recent pronouncements from the Council’, said Varrie Blowers, Secretary of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG).
‘In October, Councillors confirmed their opposition to Bradwell B on the grounds of the local environmental impacts, the loss of heritage assets and ecological harm but now seem willing to discuss a complete unknown in the shape of SMRs as a possibility for the Bradwell site’.
SMRs do not exist and are currently nothing more than an experimental pipedream. They are not even ‘small’: at around 500MW one would have twice the generating capacity of the former Bradwell A station. SMRs would create waste streams and dangerous spent fuel would be stored on a vulnerable site for 60 – 80 years after operations ceased. SMRs would create the same environmental, heritage and ecological problems as those opposed by Maldon District Council in relation to Bradwell B.
BANNG has always maintained that the main problem with any new nuclear development at Bradwell was the unsuitability of the site itself. It was clear during the recent debates on the plans for Bradwell B that a strong majority of Councillors agreed with BANNG that Bradwell is an unsuitable, unacceptable and unsustainable site for nuclear development. It is this message that needs to be made clear so that the site is removed from the Government’s list of potentially suitable sites.
In any case, the idea behind SMRs is that they would provide greater flexibility in location and should ideally be sited near urban centres of demand. They are not suitable for more remote, rural and environmentally precious locations such as Bradwell.
‘Maldon District Council cannot have it both ways. It cannot oppose a new nuclear power station on the grounds of the unsuitability of the site and the dangers and destruction to the environment and then entertain the idea of something similarly dangerous and destructive but that is a completely unknown quantity’, said Varrie Blowers.