NUCLEAR bosses did their best to weather a storm under questioning on the impact a third power station might have on the coastline.

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A packed Britten-Pears building at Snape heard from marine environment manager for EDF Energy’s proposal Colin Taylor, who admitted there had been “very little” historical research into the frontage at Sizewell. But he said the coast had eroded an average of 1.5metres per year over the last two centuries and the sea banks had moved 30m closer to the shore in the last 70 years.

Mr Taylor described Sizewell as laying behind a narrow shore in a long shallow bay, set within a number of smaller bays and, crucially, two “control points” at Minsmere Sluice and Thorpeness, and a third point formed by cooling water from Sizewell B. He said: “Management of these control points is key. We have to build in a way that does not get in the way of coastal processes. We know what these processes are and we have an increasing understanding of how they behave in extreme circumstances.” Mr Taylor said the tide had deposited an incremental northern growth of the Sizewell sandbank.

Evaluation of the banks, he said, would inform engineering design, marine offloading facilities and cooling water systems, which will pump out 125 cubic metres per second - more than double that of Sizewell B but maintaining a significantly slower velocity based. He also produced digital models of marine environment scenarios that might develop over the course of Sizewell’s useful life.

Peter Lanyon, of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, argued not enough time had been reserved to respond to the study, leaving the public at a disadvantage.

But EDF Energy’s communications manager, Tom McGarry, said: “We are now consulting on whether Sizewell is a fully suitable site and are asking, at this first stage, for the views of local people to shape the details of a second stage.”

Peter Mellor, of Felixstowe, complained no discussion had been made of the radiation and “thermal plume” generated by a new European Pressurised Reactor at Sizewell, and its potential impact on plant and animal life. Mr Taylor claimed there had been a long history, going back to the 1950s, of studying the effects of cooling water. He added: “At Hinkley [where EDF is also hoping to build a new nuclear power station], we were dealing with a number of conservation designations and we had to conduct our assessment very carefully. The same approaches are being refined and developed here.”

Simon Barlow, new build project manager for the Environment Agency, said he was preparing a response to the consultation and they would be heavily involved in assessing cooling water discharge.

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