PRESS RELEASE – 22 November, 2016
The Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) has been opposing new nuclear development at Bradwell for the last 8 years, on the grounds that the low-lying site is totally unsuitable for such development and, now, also because of security issues, shared with others, about Chinese involvement in such sensitive UK infrastructure.
Meanwhile the Government has welcomed the Chinese state-owned General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) investment into new nuclear build at Bradwell.
Now it seems that Essex County Council (ECC), too, is welcoming new build. BANNG has learned that to ‘celebrate the project’, ECC is offering Maldon District Councillors the opportunity to undertake Mandarin lessons and workshops on Chinese culture, to be supplied by ECC’s Jiangsu Centre for Chinese Studies. It appears that there will also be opportunities for exchanges.
Professor Andy Blowers, Chair of BANNG, commented: ‘There is a long process ahead before any new nuclear power station can be built at Bradwell. The rigorous Generic Design Assessment has not yet commenced and then there will be a planning process in which Maldon District and Essex County Councils will be consultees. By celebrating in any way, the County Council potentially compromises its disinterested role as a consulted planning authority. The suggestion that there is something to celebrate could give the impression that a new Chinese power station will simply be waved through’.
BANNG believes that this project has the potential to devastate the Blackwater estuary area and affect communities. ‘I’m surprised that neither Council seems to be waking up to the fact that highly radioactive spent fuel, and other dangerous wastes, will require to be stored on the Bradwell site over the long-term. And not only because a national repository is not in sight, but simply because the spent fuel from the reactor will have to be stored for many years after production ceases just to cool down, probably until the end of the next century and who knows what the site will be like then. I am surprised the Councils are not concerned about imposing this on local communities’. BANNG is concerned that it may be that neither Council possesses expertise in understanding what is proposed. And learning Mandarin will not compensate for that.
BANNG continues to try to elicit information on what is proposed for the site from CGN and their partner, EDF, but none is forthcoming. The group believes that it would be far more useful if the Chinese were to have a look at our British culture, in particular at the open democracy exercised in Britain. They would learn that here there is a tradition of opposition and that the British have a tendency to act openly and to indulge in engagement with opponents.
‘Now that Essex County and Maldon District Councils believe there is something to celebrate, they are probably in a position to give the public information’, said Andy Blowers. ‘But please, not in Mandarin!
BANNG believes that both Councils need to understand that it is not only the Maldon area that will be affected by new nuclear build and storage of dangerous wastes at Bradwell. There are many communities outwith that area that will feel the brunt of what happens at the site. Should a Chinese reactor(s) ever be built and should an accident ever occur, a population of around 350,000 could be disastrously affected.
‘New nuclear development at Bradwell is a transboundary issue and Councils neighbouring Maldon must also be involved and consulted’, said Andy Blowers.