28 Jan 2009

New nuke at Oldbury

It has been a while since I covered local nuke news - there was the recent Oldbury Stakeholders meeting which I missed but have now had feedback from folk attending - one issue raised by campaigners was around cancer - indeed several in the audience got quite animated and expressed their fears that cancer levels seemed to be rising down wind of Oldbury, although they couldn't prove it.

Photo: Randwick sheep last month

In the end, the big boss of the outfit announced that at the April meeting there would be a proper debate. He would bring in lots of doctors, health officials (all clearly pro-nuclear!) while the audience was cordially invited to bring along their "opinions". That will be interesting as there is growing evidence of health risks - studies from 2001 showed an eleven-fold increase in leukaemia in nearby Chepstow, fifty percent extra breast cancers downstream of Oldbury and 37.5 percent extra prostate cancers downwind of the plant - but more of that in another blog....

New nuke at Oldbury

More worrying is the news that three reactors could be built in the West in a new wave of nuclear power stations with Oldbury to be nominated for a plant. The South Gloucestershire site which is 16 miles from Stroud would join Hinkley in Somerset, where two reactors are being planned.

Furthermore the Government is easing the way forward for the nuclear industry while dismissing major public concern on this expensive polluting project. There are hints that it will cut access to local footpaths and beaches and discourage public events where people can raise their voices. The ongoing problem of nuclear waste has been skimmed over. Plus it looks like no public meetings to discuss the matter. See more here.
Sedgemoor's dirty deal?

I have to say I was a little horrified at news that Sedgemoor District Council secretly asked nuclear energy firms for a £750,000 handout as they prepare to submit plans for a controversial new power plant in Somerset. The council says it was trying to avoid burdening local taxpayers yet this has exposed the council to allegations of unethical practice. Independent planning consultant Hugh Richards said: "It clearly conflicts with the ethical and professional standards of the Royal Town Planning Institute. There is a procedure for legitimately levying a fee on planning applicants, and it is this procedure that should be followed."

Worse still councillors appeared to know nothing - West Somerset councillor Jon Freeman said: "None of us knew anything about this, we were all shocked and horrified. It is West Somerset District Council which is the planning authority covering Hinkley, not Sedgemoor."

Meanwhile Stop Hinkley spokesman Jim Duffy said: "It's easy to imagine nuclear companies expecting a smoother passage for Hinkley C had they paid this premium. Sedgemoor made a bad mistake here, not least in doing this behind the backs of its own and West Somerset councillors."

Sedgemoor says the Government has since agreed to put up the cash as it will be Westminster that decides on any future planning application, not the district. See more from Stop Hinkley here.

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