From the guardian april 5th

Legislation rushed through in the final hours of parliament allows local planning laws to be bypassed, seriously alarming anti-nuclear campaigners

Radioactivity symbol

Objectors worry that ministers are desperate to find a solution to the current radioactive waste problem to win public support to build a new generation of nuclear power stations. Photograph: David Woodfall

Under the latest rules, the long search for a place to store Britain’s stockpile of 50 years’ worth of the most radioactive waste from power stations, weapons and medical use can be ended by bypassing local planning.

Since last week, the sites are now officially considered “nationally significant infrastructure projects” and so will be chosen by the secretary of state for energy. He or she would get advice from the planning inspectorate, but would not be bound by the recommendation. Local councils and communities can object to details of the development but cannot stop it altogether.

The move went barely noticed as it was passed late on the day before parliament was prorogued for the general election, but has alarmed local objectors and anti-nuclear campaigners.

Friends of the Earth’s planning advisor, Naomi Luhde-Thompson, said: “Communities will be rightly concerned about any attempts to foist a radioactive waste dump on them. We urgently need a long-term management plan for the radioactive waste we’ve already created, but decisions mustn’t be taken away from local people who have to live with the impacts.”

Objectors worry that ministers are desperate to find a solution to the current radioactive waste problem to win public support to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Zac Goldsmith, one of the few government MPs who broke ranks to vote against the move, criticised the lack of public debate about such a “big” change. “Effectively it strips local authorities of the ability to stop waste being dumped in their communities,” he said.

“If there had been a debate, there could have been a different outcome: most of the MPs who voted probably didn’t know what they were voting for.”

Labour abstained in the vote, indicating that a future government will not want to reverse the change of rules. However, the shadow energy minister, Julie Elliott, has warned that the project is expected to take 27 years to build even after a preferred site was identified and would cost £4bn-5.6bn a year to build, plus the cost of running it for 40 years.

Since the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution found in 1976 that it was “morally wrong” to keep generating nuclear waste without a demonstrably safe way of storing the waste, there have been at least four attempts to find the right site, all of them shelved after strong protest.

There are now 4.5m cubic metres of accumulated radioactive waste kept in secure containers at sites across Britain, though only 1,100m3 of this is the most controversial high-level waste, and 290,000m3 is intermediate-level waste. It costs £3bn a year to manage the nuclear waste mountain, of which £2bn comes from taxpayers.

The most recent proposal for a more permanent solution was to ask local authorities to volunteer to examine whether they could host the development. Initially, a coalition of Cumbria county council and Copeland and Allerdale borough councils put their names forward, but the policy stalled in 2013 when the county council pulled out.

Last year, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published a white paper which said ministers would prefer to work with public support, but reserved the right to take more aggressive action on planning if “at some point in the future such an approach does not look likely to work”.

The day before parliament rose, MPs voted in an unusual paper ballot to implement a two-page statutory instrument which adds nuclear waste storage to the list of nationally significant infrastructure projects in England, via the 2008 Planning Act.

Officials have said approval depends on a “test of public support” and any site would undergo extensive geological safety tests.

Copeland borough council, one of the two areas most affected by any such development at Sellafield, said it was pleased with the government’s change to planning rules.

Radiation-Free Lakeland – set up to block the Sellafield proposal because they claim there is no evidence deep storage is safe or that the geology of Cumbria is suitable – claimed, however, “the test of public support is a fig leaf: the government hast’t said what the public support will be”.

The only existing high-level radioactive underground waste storage, in New Mexico, USA, has been closed since last year following two accidents.

Germany has put similar plans for burying high-level waste on hold and four other countries, including France and Japan, are examining the idea.


From the Financial Times.

Four hundred construction jobs are to be cut at the site of Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear power plant after France’s EDF called a halt to work for the first in a new generation of reactors. The cuts follow news in February of a delay to an investment decision on the £24.5bn project, now likely to be months away as negotiations with potential investors continue. EDF Energy, the group’s UK unit, has said it is “working hard” to finalise a deal on Hinkley Point C and “making progress” in discussions with possible partners, including with the Chinese companies involved. There were signs that negotiations with the partners — China General Nuclear Power Corp, China National Nuclear Corp, France’s Areva, Saudi Electric and several pension funds — had stalled over Chinese demands. The Chinese energy companies, which are rivals, have been at odds over their precise share of the project. Both have been pushing for a substantial share of the supply chain contracts — a demand that has held up negotiations, although it is now understood to have been met.
They are also interested in buying into proposed reactor projects at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex, the second of which they want to use to pioneer their own reactor design. This has been a stumbling block. Potential investors are also understood to want to see government agreement on the contract for difference, or price at which the power will be sold, before making a final commitment.

FT 2nd April 2015

Suffolk communities unite to make demands from Sizewell C

(Article from East Angia daily Times)

20 March 2015

Communities are uniting in the demands they are to make as part of the development of a nuclear power plant in east Suffolk.

Representatives from 50 town and parish councils met the Joint Local Authority Group (JLAG) to agree a range of measures they will call on EDF Energy to deliver in phase two of its Sizewell C consultation.

The meeting agreed the need for the whole community – Suffolk County Council (SCC), Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) and parish councils – “to work rapidly together” to press EDF to agree its terms.

Long-held aspirations for a four villages A12 bypass are included in the demands along with assurances for Yoxford, Middleton and Theberton to be protected from the “predicted substantial increase in traffic on the B1122”.

JLAG, which is formed from SCC and SCDC members, also agreed to push EDF to present an “early timetable” for its future plans.

More than two years has passed since phase one of the Sizewell consultation went out and the date for phase two has been repeatedly delayed. When it arrives, JLAG is also urging for there to be at least 12 weeks’ community consultation – rather than the eight proposed – so that people have sufficient time to consider what is an “extremely complex” project.

JLAG chairman Andy Smith said the “resounding view” of the meeting was that EDF needed to provide more detailed information for the consultation, which he urged “as many people as possible” to take part in. “I would urge all local communities to ready themselves,” he added. “We don’t yet know when it will begin but it is currently not scheduled to run for long, so readiness to respond will be essential.”

Debbi Tayler, spokesman for the Four Villages Bypass group, said she welcomed the outcome, which was “what we have been pushing for all along”.

She said the need for a bypass around Stratford St Andrew, Farnham, Marlesford and Little Glemham was more apparent than ever, highlighting the “astonishing” traffic that built up during recent road works, which she says will only worsen during Sizewell’s construction.

Tony Middleditch, a Yoxford councillor, who has been campaigning for EDF to abandon its plans for construction traffic to use the B1122 in favour of a new road built further south known as the “D2” route, also welcomed the progress made.

“I think they’ve realised there’s a problem that the D2 route would solve and at least now they are putting pressure on EDF,” he said.

Leonora van Gils, a Darsham resident who has highlighted the problems faced by homeowners while EDF’s plans are dragged out, also called for more clarity.

“Why are they taking so long?” she asked. “Do they think it is fair to have people not knowing for all this time?”

EDF Energy said it was “committed to a full and robust consultation” and would be providing more information about the project in the next stage, the timing of which was linked to the final decision at Hinkley Point, its other nuclear power project in Somerset.

In the meantime, people were invited to raise questions at the Sizewell C information office in Leiston High Street.

A conservation group has accused council chiefs of “cutting corners” in the assessment of a proposed new 165-acre wildlife site to replace internationally-important habitat that will be lost if Sizewell C is built.

Suffolk Coastal council says the scheme for land at Aldhurst Farm at Leiston will be treated separately from any plans for a new nuclear power station and not as compensation as the habitat will be created whether the £14billion twin reactor plant goes ahead or not.

But Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth (FoE) says this decision means a less than adequate investigation of the impact of the new site and loss of part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) will take place – with no need for a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The group says EDF Energy has openly admitted the connection between the proposed wildlife site off Lovers Lane and Sizewell C as it will “help compensate for potential land-take from Sizewell Marshes SSSI”.

FoE said: “It is notable on the planning portal that the Suffolk Wildlife Trust questions whether the correct appraisals have been done with regard to the vulnerable nature reserve areas. In fact, the necessary assessments are seriously incomplete.

“This leaves our protected habitats and species in and around Sizewell at severe risk.

“Since the reason for this new habitat is to compensate for damage caused by Sizewell C construction works, then that damage must first be formally assessed, in line with the European Habitats Directive.

“This demands that all impacts be included, not just environmental changes caused by the new project itself, but the larger development as a whole, in combination with any other local proposals.


“This has not been achieved and as a result the screening and consideration of likely effects are inevitably misconstrued.”

Rachel Fulcher, the group’s coordinator, added: “These are serious oversights, with a bearing on a massive project that will ravage the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and our Heritage Coast.

“Wildlife will be lost and our tranquil, protected countryside will be ruined, along with our tourist trade which depends on it.

“Even if the proper appraisals take one or two more years to complete, then they should be done. Corner cutting like this undermines public confidence.”

In a letter, Philip Ridley, head of planning at Suffolk Coastal, said: “That the proposed habitat creation project is a stand-alone scheme, intended to be implemented and retained regardless of what does or does not happen with the Sizewell C project in due course, has been made clear in the application documents, and in particular in the Planning Statement.”

UK courts had decided that schemes which can go ahead on their own rather than as an integral part of a larger development should be treated as stand-alone and therefore the proposal would not need an EIA.

The scheme will include 14 acres of wetland habitat and a “heathland mosaic” including grassland, heathland, scrub and scattered trees.

(article copied from the ipswich star)

Appropriate Technologies

Promoters and purveyors of sustainable and evolutionary technologies


Dear David Cameron,

Climate Change

It is deeply disturbing to realise, from your Government’s amendments on fracking
to the Infrastructure Bill passed in the Commons on the 26th January, and
uncritically confirmed yesterday in the Lords, that you have not begun to
understand the issues of Climate Change.

You have signed up, at Cancun, to keeping the level of global warming to 2oC.
This is essential to maintain our planet as a home for the human race. The
acknowledged figures show clearly that, to have an 80% chance of achieving this,
we cannot afford to produce more than 1000Gt of CO2 equivalent between 2000
and 2050 [see report in Nature of 30th April 2009 from the Potsdam Institute for
Climate Change]. Unfortunately, while you politicians have been dithering and
procrastinating over what limits to set, up to 2012 the world has already used 400Gt
of this. That leaves only 600Gt to be used over the next 38 years!

The Carbon Tracker Initiative has analysed the fossil fuel reserves of all the major
energy companies listed on the world’s stock exchanges, and the reserves held by
Governments, taking the figures from the World Energy Outlook 2012. It has not
included the difficult-to-extract reserves, such as oil sands, shale gas, Arctic,
Deepwater, etc.. That analysis shows that, if all these relatively easily accessible
and known reserves were burnt, it would produce almost 3000Gt of CO2 equivalent.
It doesn’t need a very big brain to realise that we cannot afford to burn even a
quarter of these reserves before 2050, and very little thereafter. The rest must stay
in the ground. So we must not use tar sands, we must not use shale gas, we must
not use Arctic, we must not use Deepwater, and we must save ourselves the serious
environmental damage from trying to extract gas by fracking.

This highlights the point, repeatedly made by the IPCC, the UNFCC and others,
that business as usual is NOT an option in keeping the temperature rise below 2oC.
We need genuine low-carbon solutions, and NOW, not in one year’s, five years’, or
ten years’ time.

So the bogus “solution” that your Government is peddling, against all reason and
sanity, of new nuclear energy is incompetent, irresponsible, ill-judged, and not just
ineffective but counter-productive. None of the nuclear projects currently on the
table could be completed within the next ten years, judging by the timescales for
the other four EPRs being built elsewhere in the world. That ten years is absolutely
critical for reducing our greenhouse gas production and transforming ourselves into
a very low carbon economy. Otherwise we will overshoot the 1000Gt of CO2
equivalent by 2030, let alone 2050. Yet during that time the only contribution they
would make would be to generate vast amounts of CO2 equivalent, from the
enormous construction works needed to try to keep such a dangerous technology
contained. And the EPRs have a particularly high carbon footprint because of the
double containment vessel design and the exceptionally large size of the reactor.

Furthermore, nuclear is not low carbon, but merely lower carbon than gas(380g)
and coal(800g). Independent research shows that its carbon footprint is more than
100g of CO2 equivalent per kwh and rising, being likely to reach 350g by 2050.
And that assumes that the plant continues to function for its full projected life, and
does not have to be closed early through accident, or structural or technical failure,
or even becoming uneconomic. Chernobyl was only two years old when it

All the costings, and your Government’s own extraordinarily inept agreement with Electricité de France over Hinkley Point C, show the enormous costs of setting up
and running nuclear. And that is without the parts for which the Government has
retained financial responsibility — liability and clean-up costs for major accidents
(Fukushima clean-up current estimate ¥50 trillion); storage and disposal of the
nuclear waste, for which no proven technology or system yet exists. These are
unquantifiable and potentially enormous financial burdens being passed onto the
United Kingdom consumers, and entirely unnecessary.

No other energy technology locks its user into such a long-term commitment (up to
70 years), with no break clause. No other technology requires such an extended decommissioning time (over 100 years), during which the facility remains dangerous
to human health. No other technology produces highly dangerous waste, which
remains a risk to humans for thousands of years. This is not only an unsustainable
technology, it is one that no individual concerned about the welfare of the planet
and its occupants should ever contemplate using.

And to crown it, your experts in DECC have no clear idea of what our electricity
needs will be even in 2030, let alone 2085, when the first plant would start to be
decommissioned. What they can see is that electricity demand is going down year
on year. So to commit to an inflexible technology that would only have been
operating for 5 years at most before we are into the complete unknown in terms of
energy need is a highly speculative and uninformed decision. Then to have another
55 years of unadjustable electricity delivery — its either fully on or fully off — at a
time when we must be using as much genuinely low-carbon renewable generation
as possible would be pure insanity. Constant steady-stream supply from nuclear
does not mesh with permanently varying renewables.

What we need to be doing is focussing resources firstly on reducing waste,
currently 40% of production. A report commissioned for your own Government
shows that almost all of this reduction of waste could be done at negative cost —
the savings would be greater than the cost. Surely that’s a no-brainer.

Secondly, we should be focussing resources on supporting genuine low-carbon
technologies, the renewables, particularly solar and wind, which have CO2
equivalents per kwh of less than 20g, and decreasing as technology improves. As
in Germany, the Government should be encouraging individuals, through generous
subsidies, to install these on a small scale, all over the country. That way the
electricity would be produced at the point of need. Large scale solar and wind
farms are not the best solution, but may have a place in appropriate circumstances.

Until Government takes seriously the phenomenon of Global Warming, the
necessary controls of carbon emissions, particularly on the fossil fuel industry, will
not be put in place. The longer that is delayed, the less likely that we will be able
to hold temperature rise to below the critical 2oC. What a legacy for which to be

As, on present form, your party will not be forming the next Government after the
elections in May, it would be grossly irresponsible for you to try to stitch up a deal
on Hinkley Point C with Electricité de France by the end of March, as the company
is indicating that you plan. You do not have a mandate to commit the country to
such a very long-term and inflexible dependence on unsustainable, dangerous,
expensive and obsolete technology. To do so would be the height of folly. It could
only lead to a judicial review of your decision.

The seriousness of the consequences of Global Warming mean that the right
decisions, which should have been made years ago, urgently need to be made now.
That means addressing the issue of inappropriate carbon emissions, and controlling
them. It means identifying the appropriate sustainable energy technologies to take
us forward with the minimum of carbon emissions, and promoting them. And it
means understanding which technologies are unsuitable and dangerous, and
sidelining those, however mainstream and politically powerful their protagonists
may have become.

Your promotion of nuclear energy, your failure to grasp effectively the challenge of
energy efficiency, your reduced support for renewables at domestic level and your
lack of any attempt to control the fossil fuel industries show that you haven’t yet
awoken to the urgency of this need.

So what is driving this apparently irrational and lackadaisical decision-making
process? If you consider it more important to support the unsustainable businesses
of your friends and political supporters, than to save the habitat for the human race,
then you are doing this country, and the world, an intolerable disservice. I invite
you to confirm that that is not your motivation, however much it might appear

I seek a detailed response to all the points made above. And I seek a detailed
explanation as to how you would keep us below the critical 2oC threshold, when
clearly your current policies would not achieve that. Maintaining our habitat is not
merely a good idea if we can afford it. It is an essential for the continuation of
human life on earth.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Griffith-Jones