Press Release – 22 September, 2020
News that the Japanese investor, Hitachi, has pulled the plug on the Wylfa new nuclear plant in North Wales has repercussions for the new nuclear projects on the East Coast, Sizewell C and Bradwell B, says Prof. Andy Blowers, Chair of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG). The loss of Wylfa signals the huge expense of new nuclear development.
It is clear that the UK government would have to intervene to revive the Wylfa project, which is supported by the local community. At the same time the French company EDF has its own financial woes and has made it clear it will need support from UK taxpayers or consumers in order to continue with Sizewell C.
While the Chinese developer, CGN, appears to have the resources it, too, may be reluctant to underwrite Bradwell B without UK support in some form or other. In any case concerns about risks to our national security from Chinese investment in our nuclear infrastructure are becoming more insistent to the point where either the British or Chinese government may choose to call it a day.
If these financial and security questions are not enough, CGN is now fully aware of the mountain it has to climb to get anywhere near Planning Permission for its massive nuclear juggernaut, which, if it comes to pass, will utterly destroy the environment and wellbeing of the Blackwater region.
In recent weeks widespread public protest led by BANNG and the Bradwell B Action Network (BBAN) and now fortified by influential councils at Colchester and Maldon has produced a powerful coalition of outright opposition to the proposals among the local communities. Unlike North Wales, Essex is now hostile territory for the nuclear industry.
Bradwell B also has to face other major technical hurdles. The Chinese reactor design – not yet operational anywhere in the world – must get through the rigorous assessment of the UK regulators. And it must undergo the process of Justification in terms of its benefits outweighing the health detriments it will cause.
So, its progress will not be straightforward and will take years to complete. By the time it could start operating, say in the middle of the next decade, it will be a white elephant, unnecessary, uneconomic and redundant. By that time our electricity needs will be comfortably met by a suite of renewable technologies backed by storage systems, localised power networks and international grid links.
Andy Blowers comments: ‘It is conceivable that the Bradwell B project could collapse in weeks. Or, it may take much longer before CGN realises persistence is futile. Whatever happens, the loss of Wylfa suggests the writing is already on the wall’.