The Chinese company planning Bradwell B is carrying on with its Stage 1 public consultation replacing live, face-to-face meetings with a programme of virtual experiences and phone-ins. Pressing ahead when the country is plunged into coping with the virus is surely unrealistic and thoughtless at a time when most people will be distracted with basic issues of survival. Indeed, most people will be confined to their homes and, amid competing demands, unlikely to have time or inclination to give any priority to plans for a nuclear power station that will not be built for many years. So, what possible justification can there be to carry on regardless? According to BRB, Bradwell B ‘is a nationally significant project for which there is an urgent need and it is in the public interest, including in light of the COVID crisis, that consideration of this proposed development is not indefinitely or even substantially delayed.’ This statement is incomprehensible. It is debatable whether there is a need for such a project at all, let alone ‘an urgent need’. Bradwell B will not be running, if at all, until well into the 2030s so cannot be relevant to the immediate coronavirus crisis. In terms of the long timescales for the project even a substantial delay (six months? a year?) is immaterial. In the longer term the reshaping of the economy post-coronavirus crisis will accelerate the transition to a net zero renewable energy system in which new nuclear has no part. It is definitely not in the public interest to continue with this unneeded and unwanted project. Public reaction both to BRB’s Stage 1 public consultation and to the planning application for ground investigations indicates intense opposition to a nuclear plant that will be surplus to requirements if it is ever built. At the time of coronavirus, when attention is diverted to more immediate concerns, it is unwise to persist with these plans. Far better to take the opportunity to put a brake on by withdrawing the proposals.
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