5th April 2017
The Department of the Environment has requested the UK government keep them informed on their first new nuclear plant in 20 years.
Hinkley Point C nuclear power station will be located in Somerset, on England’s west coast. In her article for the Times, Valerie Flynn points out that it is only 250km from Rosslare. That is the same distance from Dublin to Westport.
Ireland and Hinkley
There has been growing pressure on the Irish government to demand involvement on the project. Given the power station’s close proximity, it is unusual that they have been rather muted on the situation.
A case taken by An Taisce in England challenged Hinkley’s planning permission as they had failed to consult Ireland on its potential effects. Their legal action, along with an appeal in 2014, failed.
Friends of the Irish Environment had written to Denis Naughten and his predecessor, Phil Hogan, requesting the Irish government “to intervene to ensure that the provisions of the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context are respected by the UK.”
While Minister Naughten’s department have now looked to be consulted, they have not requested an Environmental Impact Assessment. They also said it’s for the UK to decide if the project should be put on hold while other countries are consulted.
Controversy surrounding Hinkley.
The UK has been criticized for failing to consult neighbouring countries. As the UK agreed to the 1991 Espoo convention, they are therefore obliged to inform other countries on undertakings that may have an environmental impact on areas beyond their borders. The agreement is non-binding.
In 2015, 10 German and Austrian energy companies filed a legal challenge against Hinkley. Nuclear-free Austria soon followed suit. They disagreed with the plant’s eligibility for aid from the European Commission.
They claim nuclear energy should “not be artificially resuscitated through state subsidies”. “Instead of funding unsafe and costly energy forms that are outdated, we have to support Europe’s energy turnaround with the expansion of renewable energies.”
The Solar Trade Association have claimed solar power would just half the subsidy of the Hinkley project for the same amount of energy
The British government estimates that the new reactors will cover up to 7% of Britain’s electricity needs while helping the government meet CO2 emissions targets.
Nuclear power is never without its controversies. Only last week, scientists reported that radiation levels at Fukushima reached new heights. The economic cost is estimated at $626 billion of for the Japanese government.
Radiation from the plant has been found washed up along the coast of the US.
Last year, BBC investigation raised questions over security and safety surrounding Sellafield.