Protestors against Somerset new nuclear power station

In Somerset anti nuclear protestors have taken squatting rights on farmland owned by the energy giant EDF after to stop the work for the new nuclear plant.

The power station will be the third plant to be build in the area of Bridgwater, which contains protected wetland. The activists took possession of an abandoned farm on the site, which is protected under International Environmental law.

Earlier in February, West Somerset Council approved planning permission for EDF to prepare the site for the controversial new nuclear station, which has now signed an agreement to provide £30m to mitigate the impact of the works and agreed to reinstate the land if its application to build the station is rejected by the Infrastructure Planning Committee.

This is the second time in a week that the campaigners occupy the site to stop the begging of the works.

During the second week of February the protesters toke possession of a wood, in a bid to stop the trees to be cutting down arguing that removing the trees would unnecessarily destroy the site if planning permission is not given.

After few days, the police and local authorities evicted them but the committee Stop Hinkley has decided not to give up.

One of the protestors Theo Simon told Earth First: “We want to reclaim this land and make sure that the wildlife that inhabits it and forages here is protected. Giving permission to clear the land before Planning Permission has even been granted clearly gives the message to EDF that permission is a done deal. I, and many others like me, want proper public consultation and debate before we commit to a technology whose toxic legacy will remain for generations.”

Through Social Media such their Facebook page and local newspapers campaigners are trying to get involved more and more people.

They ask for support and invite everyone to join their protest.

Although the anti-nuclear committees have gained more supporters, some locals welcome the new power station.

Camille Berens, from Stop Hincley adds: “There is support for our campaign but there is also a lot of support for the new power station. This is because there are very few secure jobs in the region and local people have been promised around 700 new jobs from Hinkley C and a community cash injection of over £1m. So you can understand why EDF Energy is such a powerful company in the region.

By Beatrice Giacobone

Photo by Oliver Dixon

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Nuclear is it really safe?

For the first time in 20 years permission to build a new nuclear plant has been requested by EDF.

The Environmental Agency has until 15December to decide whether the opening of a new nuclear plant near Bridgwater, Somerset will go ahead.

The response of the Environmental Agency will be only the first of several authorizations that the company needs to open the new Hinkley Point C power station.

Hinkley C would be the third plant in the area. The other two sites are either decommissioned or due for closure.

The government announced in its Nuclear Security Programme that Hinkley Point was one of eight sites considered suitable for future nuclear power stations in the UK because it is not at risk of a tsunami. The document was published to assure the public after the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

However, the Stop Hinkley committee disagrees with this. Press Officer, Crispin Aubrey, said that 400 years ago a tsunami, like the Japanese one, hit Somerset.  He argues, if the nuclear plant was built there it would be completely flooded.  “It was a long time ago but this proves that can still happen” he persists.

Locals in the area are planning to start a legal action against EDF, the French power company that owns Hinkley Point.

In fact EDF have already started to dig and clear the area from all the trees, even if they do not have the permission yet.

Camille Berens from Stop Nuclear Power says, “Activists living near the power station have been challenging the process every step of the way. They are currently opposing EDF Energy’s application to the local authorities for full planning permission to start the construction of Hinkley C.”

“Greenpeace has also launched a legal challenge, claiming that the government has been too quick to say the UK’s nuclear power stations are safe and that it should wait until we have learned the lessons from Fukushima” said Berens.

Stop Hinkley promises to protest against the development every step of the way. The committee organized a blockage of Hinkley Point on 3 October. They say they will organise more protests, along with Greenpeace and Stop Nuclear Power.

Stop Hinkley says they not only oppose the new opening of Hinkley but that they also want the government to rethink its energy plan and to follow Germany’s decision to stop using nuclear power.

The energy problem has become a hot topic after the Fukushima disaster. More and more people are worried about nuclear energy and are concerned about its safety.

“The recent accident at Fukushima demonstrates that a nuclear accident lasts for life. We are also very concerned about the effects of low-level radiation that is emitted from nuclear power stations on a daily basis,” said Camilla Berens.

Although since Fukushima anti-nuclear committees have gained more supporters, some locals welcome the new power station.

Berens adds: “There is support for our campaign but there is also a lot of support for the new power station. This is because there are very few secure jobs in the region and local people have been promised around 700 new jobs from Hinkley C and a community cash injection of over £1m. So you can understand why EDF Energy is such a powerful company in the region”.