Chinese president urged to reconsider Bradwell nuclear plans by campaign group

Bradwell Power Station.

Bradwell Power Station. - Credit: Archant

Anti-nuclear protesters have written to the Chinese premier ahead of a state visit to the UK to highlight concerns about plans for a new reactor in Essex.

Protesters gathered on the beach in Mersea Island to campaign against Bradwell Nuclear Power Station

Protesters gathered on the beach in Mersea Island to campaign against Bradwell Nuclear Power Station being handed over to the Chinese. - Credit: Su Anderson

The Bradwell Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) has long campaigned against any further development of the Bradwell Power Station site.

Bradwell has been linked to a deal between the UK government, EDF and a consortium of Chinese energy companies, principally over development of the Hinckley Point power station.

Under the expected terms of the deal the Chinese group could be given the Essex site to trial and develop its own reactor design.

Any such move would be subject to strict regulatory approval, not only from the nuclear watchdog but also from the Environment Agency and Essex County Council in terms of planning permission.

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Chinese president Xi Jinping has been invited by BANNG chairman Andy Blowers to visit Bradwell during a state visit this week.

In his letter Professor Blowers said: “Before your government takes the matter any further, I urge you to consider whether it would be worth proceeding with such a difficult project.

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“It is understood that your interest in Bradwell is motivated by the view that if a reactor of Chinese design gains approval through the UK’s independent and rigorous regulatory system it would open up market opportunities for similar reactors elsewhere.

“However, this presupposes that the reactor, along with spent fuel storage and other facilities would secure consent at all stages of regulation – design assessment, environmental permit and planning consent. This would be a very time-consuming and tough process.

“Given the circumstances of the site, it is by no means certain a new nuclear power station at Bradwell would be permitted.

Before any further commitment is made to Bradwell, may I suggest the operating companies make their intentions clear and undertake to engage with the local communities on their plans? Further, some idea of the scale of construction and its impacts on a peaceful estuary would be of interest to the public.”

The Mersea Island Environmental Alliance has also been pressing ahead with action ahead of the visit, by writing to the Energy and Climate Change Committee and launching a parliamentary petition.

Professor Blowers has also written to David Cameron around the issue, adding: “I believe the wise course of action would be for the two governments to withdraw now rather than face the probability of having to withdraw later.”

A Department of Energy & Climate Change spokesman said: “The Bradwell site is subject to the wider ongoing negotiations about the potential nuclear site Hinkley Point C.

“The UK government is continuing to work with power generator EDF to finalise the Hinckley commercial project. The deal must represent value for money and is subject to approval by ministers.”

Bradwell was decommissioned in 2002, though it is used for some waste storage and disposal, and land next to it is earmarked for the potential new site.

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