Somerset must not be a dumping ground

Today the Regulation Committee of Somerset County Council was put in a difficult position. It may not be the most popular idea, but the building of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley C is well known.

What was not well known was that there was to be consideration of importing nuclear waste for storage at the Hinkley site. Waste from Oldbury, Sizewell ‘A’ and Dungeness ‘A’ nuclear power stations.

An application from Magnox, the organisation tasked with decommissioning Britain’s ageing nuclear reactors, sought to vary existing clauses in the agreement that was tied up with the construction of Hinkley C. This is what the Regulation Committee were asked to opine on earlier today.

The reason this would have come as a surprise was back in 2005 there was agreement for some storage of nuclear waste at the site of Hinkley A. As Cllr Leigh Redman pointed out in addressing the Regulation Committee “To be clear, point 4 of the original 2005 decision clearly states :- There shall be no radioactive waste imported from outside Hinkley ‘A’ site; and only the waste (currently classed as Intermediate Level radioactive waste) that is in situ within the Hinkley ‘A’ station shall be stored on the site.”

Hence the need for agreement from SCC to vary the original planning consent conditions. The recommendation to the Committee was to grant Magnox permission. However after strong representations from Cllr Leigh Redman, Cll Dave Loveridge and Chair of Bridgwater Town Council Brian Smedley, the Cllrs on the Regulation Committee voted to turn down the application.

However this is something that may well come back. There are good reasons why the Somerset public would not want Hinkley to be used as a dumping ground for surplus radioactive waste from around the country.

And those reasons include the fact that in their infinite wisdom the Oil and Gas Authority have granted permission for a fracking well to be drilled within a 20 mile radius of the Hinkley site.

Today was a close shave with an issue that needs a lot more publicity.

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