Over the last decade the UK government has become increasingly pro nuclear as it is believed to address climate change mitigation and energy security issues, however much of the general public are opposed to nuclear power. A recent analysis of responses to the DTI’s consultation on its energy white paper, Our Energy Challenge, reveals that waste disposal, cost of electricity generation, actual efficiency in reducing carbon emissions and the extent to which it is sustainable, are key concerns surrounding nuclear power among the 527 respondents (Greenhalgh and Azapagic, 2009). These concerns are currently driving protests at Hinkley Point near Bridgwater in Somerset. Here locals and anti-nuclear activists from all over the UK have been protesting against EDF’s plans to build 2 new nuclear reactors in the area.
Protestors claim that nuclear power is not as low carbon as the government lead us to believe (Stop Nuclear Power Network UK, 2012), in fact the nuclear industry is dependent on fossil fuels at each stage of production and in the building of the reactors at Hinkley C an area twice the size of Wembley stadium will be destroyed. Issues of waste disposal are also prominent amongst protestors as radioactive waste within close proximity to humans is known to seriously affect health. Also there is also a danger that radioactive waste will be leaked into the nearby ocean which will have a disastrous impact on marine life.
Currently small scale protesting is occurring in the area intended to be cleared to build the power plant. A group of 7 people have been occupying a farm building on the land and another group of protestors have been occupying trees on the site in an effort to save them and the land. These have been attempts to stop EDF prematurely destroying the land before IPC give planning permission. However, detrimental to protestors, EDF claim to have entered an agreement with local authorities allowing them to begin the initial stages of building in the near future (BBC News, 2012).
Protests have been taking place at the proposed site for the Hinkley C power station since 2010 when hundreds of protestors gatheredto form a chain around the site, hundreds more gathered in 2011 to do the same thing. This year activists from Green Peace, Stop Nuclear and many other organisations are encouraging more people to come along to take a stand against EDF and the proposed plant.
This year’s movement took place in March and is known as ‘Surround Hinkley’. Protestors claimed to be defending democracy, future generations and the entire direction of Britain’s energy policy (Stop New Nuclear, 2012). The movement is concerned with promoting not just environmental justice but justice for the people concerned. The land has the right to remain just as much as the people have the right to be concerned about the destruction of the land and possible side effects of a nuclear power plant.
BBC News, 2012. Notice served to campers protesting at Hinkley Point. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-17085088 [Accessed 25 February 2012].
Greenhalgh, C. and Azapagic, A., 2009. Review of drivers and barriers for nuclear power in the UK. Environmental Science and Policy, 12 (7), pp. 1054-1067.
Stop New Nuclear, 2012. No more Fukushimas- 10-11: Surround Hinkley Point. Available from: http://www.stopnewnuclear.org.uk/node/228 [Accessed 25 February 2012].
Stop Nuclear Power Network UK, 2012. Stop the next generation of nuclear power stations with a blockade at Hinkley Point. Available from: http://stopnuclearpoweruk.net/content/stop-next-generation-nuclear-power-stations-blockade-hinkley-point-join-us-hinkley-3-october [Accessed 24 February 2012].
BBC News, 2011. Hinkley Point Protest: Blockade at nuclear power station [photograph]. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-15146781 [Accessed 26 February 2012].