Sizewell: ‘Frank exchange’ at meeting over new nuclear plant

OPPONENTS of plans for a Sizewell C nuclear power station emerged from a meeting with council chiefs calling for local authorities to adopt a more vigorous approach to the issues posed by the project.

The meeting, boycotted by two anti-nuclear groups because they had been excluded from an earlier “community engagement” session, was held with senior members of a joint county and district council task force.

Pete Wilkinson, a Suffolk-based environment consultant and former UK director of Greenpeace, said the meeting had been useful in airing issues which opponents believe the local authorities should investigate more thoroughly.

These included the storing of radioactive waste on site, plans for the emergency evacuation of the local population and a possible link – suggested by studies overseas – between exposure to low level radiation and childhood leukaemia.

However, Mr Wilkinson said there seemed to be a reluctance to accept anything but bland assurances given by the industry and Government departments.

“It was clear to me that the people round the table did not begin to understand the issues central to this whole discussion. It was both worrying and disturbing.

“We believe the local authorities should be examining all the issues more thoroughly, making up their own minds and having the courage to stand by those views even if they do not concur with those of Government,” he said.

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But Guy McGregor, task force chairman, said: “We are consultees. The Government has identified Sizewell as a suitable site for a new nuclear power station and the final decision will be taken by a minister.

“We do not see our role as to challenge the will of the Government but to try to get the best deal for Suffolk and its economy and particularly its young people in terms of jobs at the site,” he said. “It is incumbent on the local authorities to speak out and do the best for our local communities and this includes ensuring that adequate emergency plans are in place if the unthinkable happens.”

A Suffolk Coastal District Council spokesman said the meeting had involved a frank but very useful exchange of views.

“A number of significant points were raised which we will take up with EDF Energy and which will be useful in our future discussions with the company,” he added.

The meeting was boycotted by the Suffolk-based Communities Against Nuclear Expansion and the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign.

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