'Vigil' protest against N-plant

MEMBERS of a campaign group took to the water in a flotilla to protest about plans to build a nuclear power station on the Essex coast.

Elliot Furniss

MEMBERS of a campaign group took to the water in a flotilla to protest about plans to build a nuclear power station on the Essex coast.

The Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group, known as BANNG, organised the event to raise the profile of its campaign against plans to build a new power station close to the site of the old Bradwell reactor, which is currently being decommissioned.

Andy Blowers, BANNG's chairman, said the two-hour sailing “vigil” had been a big success, with 16 boats joining the fleet and dozens of people signing the group's petition.

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The boats set sail from Mersea Island - just a short distance across the Blackwater estuary from the power station sites - on Sunday lunchtime, making their way along the shore before heading over to Bradwell itself.

Mr Blowers said the day had proved a big success and helped draw attention to the group's campaign.

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He said: “I think we have stirred up public opinion but we are not deliberately alarmist.

“We were drawing attention to the estuary as a beautiful, tranquil place. Bradwell is a pretty awful site for a new nuclear power station. What we're trying to do is to draw public attention to the various elements of the damage that will be caused.”

While many people packed on to the boats making up the flotilla, others were on the beaches at both Mersea Island and Bradwell, collecting signatures for the petition and picnicking.

EDF Energy owns land next to the old Bradwell site, currently being decommissioned by Magnox, and is assessing it for potential new nuclear development.

A spokesman said: “EDF Energy strongly believes that nuclear has a vital role in maintaining UK electricity supplies as a low-carbon generator now and in the future.

“We also believe that Bradwell is one of a number of potential sites across the UK where new nuclear power stations could be built, but only after they have been thoroughly examined through the planning process.

“A major part of this process will include extensive public consultation. Our company respects the right of people to protest in a peaceful and lawful manner.”

Bradwell was built on the edge of a former Second World War airfield and began generating power in 1962 but operations ceased in 2002. Decommissioning of the old site is currently being carried out and will take many more years to complete.

The Government has decided that nuclear energy should have a role to play in the future and Bradwell is one of the sites nominated for a new build power station.

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