The Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) has learned that the development of the Bradwell B proposed nuclear power station by BRB (the UK division of China General Nuclear) is to be paused for at least a year. ‘This could be the beginning of the end for a project that is not needed and which will create irretrievable damage and danger to the coastal communities of Essex,’ said Prof. Andy Blowers Chair of BANNG. Reacting to the news Prof. Blowers said: ‘This news which may indicate the end of the road for Bradwell B, while a bit of a shock, comes as no real surprise. We have thought for some time that the project has been running out of steam as it hit one obstacle after another. Covid-19 is probably the final straw.’ Until a year ago CGN was claiming it was ramping up its plans for Bradwell to take pole position in the UK’s programme as other projects fell by the wayside. Since then BRB has faced a series of setbacks. First, it revealed its proposals just as the pandemic broke. Public reaction was overwhelmingly hostile, shocked by the sheer scale of the project and its massive impact on environment, communities and wellbeing. Even the Environment Agency was scathing in its criticism emphasising the contrast between the plan’s economic ambitions and the inadequate ambition for the environment and lack of detailed information given by the developer. The public response was uninhibited, a mixture of incredulity and anger, illustrated by this example: ‘To blithely hand over such a development as Bradwell B to a powerful autonomous nation such as China compounds this recklessness to a preposterous level’. Second, the project ran, perhaps unexpectedly, into strong local political opposition. Initially, all the main local authorities welcomed the power station for the potential jobs and wealth it would bring but making clear support was contingent on environmental protection and improvement. Colchester Borough was the first to break ranks declaring, ‘This Council objects to new nuclear at Bradwell due to the local environmental impacts and prefers a focus on renewable energy alternatives’. It was followed by Maldon District Council which, having rejected BRB’s application for land investigations, went further and decided ‘to reconsider its position’ on its long standing ‘in principle’ support for nuclear power. Maldon provided a telling blow in refusing planning permission for land investigations needed to test the viability of the site. The company has appealed but the planning inspector’s long delay in reaching a decision suggests there may be problems with environmental impacts. The recent decision by the planning inspectorate to recommend refusal of planning for the Wylfa project in North Wales on environmental grounds bodes ill for both Sizewell and Bradwell where environmental sensitivities are at least as strong. Third, December’s long-awaited Energy White Paper gave a less than ringing endorsement of nuclear power indicating the Government would talk with EDF about financing Sizewell C. The Government’s modest aim is ‘to bring at least one large-scale nuclear project to the point of Final Investment Decision (FID) by the end of this Parliament, subject to clear value for money and all relevant approvals’. On Bradwell B specifically the White Paper is silent. And, fourth, is the geopolitical issue of China’s role in critical UK infrastructure. The Government has fast-tracked the date for removing Huawei from the UK’s 5G network, and the passage of the National Security and Investment Bill has highlighted these concerns.
BANNG 15th Feb 2021 read more »
WORK on the Bradwell nuclear power station could be severely delayed with aspects of the project paused until “future years”. The decision comes after the Environment Agency told the Chinese nuclear developer behind the plans that in order to build the new reactor, it must resolve at least six safety issues before moving forward. A letter to Maldon District Council from Bradwell B Power Generation Company (BRB) – formed from the partnership of China General Nuclear Power and EDF – says in order to tightly control expenditure, it needs to pause aspects of the project. This includes essential engagement with local authorities and other statutory stakeholders which, it says, will “begin again in future years”. The letter adds the coronavirus crisis has delayed the work and to ensure the project moves forward efficiently, it will be prioritising technical aspects, such as site feasibility. The letter reads: “The Bradwell B project made strong progress in 2020 with the completion of our first stage of public consultation, completion of EIA Scoping and we benefited from strong engagement with your team at Maldon District Council.
Essex Gazette 16th Feb 2021 read more »