Anti-nuclear campaigners want Bradwell B plans halted during pandemic

Protesters opposing a new nuclear power station on the Essex coast are demanding a halt to any preliminary site work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The construction of Bradwell B has faced stiff opposition from the Bradwell Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) for several...

Bradwell B Early Site Works32 2 - Credit: Archant

The proposed Bradwell B site would see a twin reactor nuclear power station open near Bradwell-on-Sea, at the site of the partially decommissioned Magnox power station, built and managed by Chinese energy giants China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) and EDF - operating under the name GNSL.

In February this year, opponents to Bradwell B were able to start voicing their concerns via public consultation.

But preliminary investigations into the suitability of the site could be given the green light while the UK is under lockdown – which Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) are strongly opposed to.

A spokesman for the group said: “BANNG argues that it is undemocratic and wrong to be giving the go-ahead for a project which is not needed, on a site not yet approved, at a time when the whole country is distracted by the coronavirus emergency.

“The decision on the site investigations is likely to be taken at a time when, owing to the coronavirus, normal meetings of Maldon District Council with public involvement are not possible, so normal democratic processes do not apply.

“BANNG urges the council to ensure the decision is suspended, at least until the council can properly meet.

“Many people think a new nuclear power station at Bradwell is a done deal already – it really is not.”

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The current phase of planning has opened up the energy companies’ plans to scrutiny from developers, regulators, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency, and runs until June 20.

The two companies have previously defended the plans for the power station, arguing a new power station would help the government’s net zero greenhouse gas emissions target, while attempting to curb a 35% drop in existing electricity generation capacity by the end of the decade.

An EDF spokesman said: “Undertaking site surveys are an integral part of developing the Bradwell B proposals, prior to submitting an application for development consent in the next few years.

“Survey work began in 2017 with all the necessary permissions and is a requirement for us to demonstrate to the regulators that the site is suitable, and that the local environment is properly understood and can be protected throughout the construction and operation of Bradwell B Power Station.”

The spokesman added: “In light of the current situation with Covid-19, and the need to curtail face-to-face consultation events, the decision was made to extend the Bradwell B consultation by five weeks.

“The public will continue to be able to contact the project with questions via email and telephone.

“Additionally, we continue to post paper copies of consultation materials to anyone who requests them.

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