A MANX politician has expressed disappointment after the UK Government announced plans for new nuclear power stations on the west coast of Britain, including three just across the Irish Sea from the Isle of Man.
Environment, Food and Agriculture Minister John Shimmin MHK said the announcement came as no surprise to him but nonetheless he felt ‘considerable disappointment’.
‘In particular the proposal to locate a nuclear power station next to the Sellafield reprocessing plant introduces an element of increased risk that we will continue to oppose,’ he said.
‘The upgrading of the existing facilities at Heysham and Wylfa, though undesirable, at least will be built with even higher security and safety in mind and, finally, we will continue to work with our colleagues in Ireland to apply pressure to the UK government to best protect the safety of our island and its people.’
The announcement is the first significant one regarding nuclear power by the UK Government since the Fukushima disaster in Japan. The eight locations for the next-generation reactors are all adjacent to existing ones and they are expected to be complete by 2025.
Besides Sellafield in west Cumbria, the other sites are: Heysham in Lancashire; Wylfa in Anglesey; Hinkley Point in Somerset; Oldbury in South Gloucestershire; Hartlepool in County Durham; Sizewell in Suffolk; and Bradwell in Essex.
Mr Shimmin added there was some consolation in the fact that new nuclear plants were getting better. He said: ‘The power station at Heysham will be a state-of-the-art new one. But the real issue about Sellafield is they will still continue to do reprocessing and to have a power station alongside introduces a new element. Nuclear power stations are fine until something goes wrong then you have no way of protecting yourself.’
He said the announcements had been delayed by the disaster at Fukushima and he applauded the recent non-nuclear stance taken by Germany.
‘Germany has probably embarrassed the UK Government by turning away from nuclear power, which is a preferable approach to take,’ he said.