Green light given to new nuclear stations

THE Government has given the go-ahead for a string of new nuclear power stations – with two of those almost certainly on the Suffolk and Essex coastline.

Energy secretary Chris Huhne unveiled his plans for the future of Britain’s energy supply in a statement to Parliament.

He gave the thumbs up to eight new nuclear power plants – one of which is expected at Sizewell and another at Bradwell-on-Sea.

It will mean a massive boost to the region’s economy, ploughing millions of pounds into local infrastructure and generating thousands of jobs.

But last night campaigners warned a reliance on nuclear power was unsafe and urged Whitehall to consider renewable sources of energy.

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French power giant EDF has already said it would like to build new twin reactors at Sizewell.

The company declined to comment last night but a spokesman confirmed they would be issuing a statement later today.

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Formal consultation on the plans for Sizewell C could start as early as the first half of next year and the plant could be up and running by 2020.

The construction period – which could last about six or seven years – is likely to employ between 4,500 and 5,000 people and when complete the power station would employ 700-900 people.

But last night Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign, said an announcement would be “jumping the gun”.

He said the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate – now known as the Nuclear Directorate – was carrying out a study on the safety of new technology, including the European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) that EDF is believed to favour for Sizewell C.

“It would be a disgrace if new power stations were given the go-ahead before we have the findings of this report,” he said.

“What the Government should be doing is investing in more renewable energies.”

EDF has agreed to sell remaining land, which includes some of the site at Bradwell-on-Sea, to other potential nuclear operators.

Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) has been campaigning against a new power station there for more than three years.

Chairman Andrew Blowers said there were four key arguments why a plant should not be built at Bradwell.

Mr Blowers claimed it would devastate the fishing and oyster industries, the proposed site was a flood risk, nuclear waste would remain well after the power station had shut down and the high population of nearby areas would be impossible to evacuate in an emergency.

If given the go-ahead, the projects would still be subject to planning regulations.

Currently all applications for nationally significant schemes have to go to the Infrastructure Planning Commission for a decision.

However this could soon change as Whitehall has indicated an intention for the decision-making to revert back to the Secretary of State.

It is believed the Government will allow companies to create a new generation of nuclear plants, on the condition they are built without any public subsidy.

But under the coalition agreement, the Liberal Democrats are able to abstain in parliamentary votes on the issue, having opposed the building of new nuclear plants in their election manifesto.

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