French Nuclear Company Blocks Transparency in British Nuclear Proposal

Hinkley Point C is a proposed nuclear power station development in Somerset, England, involving two local councils, West Somerset and Sedgemoor.

In September 2008, Electricite de France, the new owners of Hinkley Point B, announced plans for a third, twin-unit European Pressurized Reactor at Hinkley Point C, to join Hinkley Point A, now shut down and being decommissioned, and the Hinkley Point B, due for closure in 2016.

As with all planning applications, Electricite de France’s proposed new nuclear power station has to be the subject of a local government impact assessment. The area in question straddles two district councils, West Somerset and Sedgemoor. As usual in such circumstances, the councils are being funded for their work by the prospective developers. This could cost around Pounds 1m.

It is normal practice for the conclusions of such assessment studies to be made publicly available. Not in this case. Before agreeing to fund such work, Electricite de France insisted upon a series of legally binding agreements with the district councils. One allows the company to “clearly identify… information that it considers should not be disclosed by the councils under the Freedom of Information Act.” Another compels the councils to “consult the company prior to the release of any requested information.”

artist’s impression.

Such draconian restrictions can only be intended to ensure that nothing likely to be prejudicial to the case for the new power station will ever fall into the hands of any of the majority of people who are – according to opinion polls – still deeply suspicious of the Great God Atom.

There is history here. In the 1980s the Hinkley Point site was the proposed construction site for a new nuclear power station by the then-Central Electricity Generating Board. Opposition was co-ordinated by a body called COLA, the Consortium of Opposing Local Authorities. Prominent members were Sedgemoor and West Somerset councils. It was the subject of a lengthy, and bitter, public inquiry. And, lest we forget, that power station was never built.

See this Anti-Nuclear campaign website for more information:

Stop Hinkley website for more general information.

By Andrew Warren

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