At 6:45am this morning campaigners opposing nuclear new build blockaded the entrance to EDF’s Sizewell facility in Suffolk limiting access to the site by visitors to the site. This is the second time in three days that EDFs nuclear facilities have been targeted by activists, following hot on the heels of Friday’s dawn Blockade at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
EDF began their Consultation on the 21 Nov, and the public have just eleven weeks (until the 6th Feb 2012) to wade through the 342 pages of consultation documents. The glossy Brochures encourage us to play an ‘active’ role in the consultation, so here we are. Said mom Nikki Clark, “The government’s energy policy and changes to the planning system are pre-emptively denying people the opportunity to raise their legitimate concerns about nuclear power. This makes acts of civil disobedience extremely important as without this there is no other way to raise these issues.” She went on to say “If the process already underway at Hinkley Point in Somerset where I live is anything to go by, then the public here at Sizewell can expect a sham process which is nothing more than a cynical box-ticking exercise designed to allow EDF to claim that they have ‘listened’ to people’s concerns. The new process that the government has introduced to ‘fast-track new nuclear’ is totally undemocratic and therefore, illegitimate.
On Friday the government announced that “they have reached a landmark agreement on energy policy that will send a durable signal to investors”1 so that they can introduce the Energy Bill next week however most commentators believe that The Electricity reform Act is more about subsidising new nuclear that it is about subsidising ‘low carbon technology, the proof (if any were needed) lies in the fact that the governments proposals as they stand will hamstring genuinely renewable projects2.
On-shore wind would only require a strike price of around £80 per megawatt hour compared to the minimum ‘strike’ price of around £165 per MW/h that would be needed to subsidise new nuclear build. This would not be the only ‘subsidy-that-isn’t-a-subsidy ‘ that nuclear power would require. Said Mell Harrison, Education Director at a local Eco-centre “The biggest ‘subsidy-that-isn’t-a-subsidy’ that this industry will receive will be the one that comes in the form of highly toxic radioactive waste legacy they plan to store on-site at new build facilities. The cost of these subsidies will be borne by our grandchildren both physically and economically in around sixty years time when EDF get to leave the waste where it is and return ‘custody’ of it to our grandchildren. This will be in the form of highly dangerous waste that will require a minimum of a further hundred years cooling in-situ before anyone can even begin to think about packaging it for any further ‘storage’3
Said local campaigner Helen Swanston “Most people around here don’t realise that EDF were given the go ahead recently to build a dry storage facility to house the backlog of 1,466 tonnes of radioactive waste that is accumulating on site. The reason for this accumulation is because the technocrats of yester-year promised that the ‘waste issue’ would be resolved ‘in the future’ making fantastic promises about magical disposal facilities that would materialise in the not too distant future. These are the same empty promises that todays technocrats and politicians are making to us now. We are no closer now to any kind of interim storage facility let alone any kind of final resting place for nuclear waste.” The government’s so-called policy of voluntarism has seen only one set of local authorites even consider ‘volunteering’ and even they seem to have cold feet having deferred any decision to get involved until January of next year.4 EDF plan to create 3500 tonnes of waste from their twin EPR reactors 5
Notes to Editors:
1 –DECC press release Re Energy Reform Act: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn12_0146/pn12_0146.aspx
2 – Dr David Toke is Senior Lecturer in Energy Policy in the Department of Political Science and International Studies in the University of Birmingham (UK). He was a key player in the campaign to establish feed-in tariffs for small renewable projects in the UK, the legislation for which was passed in 2008 http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/are-tories-anti-bourgeois-left-or-just.html
3 –The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Argoone National Laboratory in the U.S highlighted the dangers associated with the new high burn up fuel in 2008 in a conference where ‘They say that fuels with a burn-up above 45 GWd/tU cause previously unforeseen safety problems’ http://www.robedwards.com/2008/04/nuclear-super-f.html
4 – There is deep unease about trusting government enough to comitt to the process to find location for a nuclear waste dump with concerns about the abscence of laws governing the process as well as concerns about the unsuitable geology in Cumbria. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/the-northerner/2012/oct/03/three-month-delay-nuclear-waste-burial-cumbria
5 – Peter Lux is a local person concerned about Sizewell http://www.plux.co.uk/3500-tonnes-of-spent-fuel-may-be-produced-by-sizewell-c/