Protestors pledge to fight energy giant nuclear power plans
Anti-nuclear protesters have taken squatting rights on farmland owned by energy giant EDF after it was given the go-ahead to clear the proposed nuclear power site in Somerset.
Campaigners are angry over EDF's plans to build a nuclear plant on the Hinkley Point C site near Bridgewater, which contains protected wetland, arguing that approval from the council to clear the site before planning permission has been approved sends out the message that it is a "done deal" for EDF.
Earlier this month, West Somerset Council approved planning permission for EDF to prepare the site for the controversial new nuclear station, which has now signed an agreement to provide £30m to mitigate the impact of the works and agreed to reinstate the land if its application to build the station is rejected by the Infrastructure Planning Committee.
EDF director of planning and external affairs for nuclear new bnuild Richard Mayson described the station as a project of "national significance", adding that it will provide low carbon electricity for 5m homes.
He said: "We are very aware of the impacts the preparatory works will have on the local area, so we have worked very hard with the local authority to identify and mitigate the impacts and bring forward improvements to local services and facilities for residents in West Somerset and beyond."
Speaking to edieEnergy, 'Stop Hinkley' campaign spokeswoman Katy Attwater, said that "what we are concerned about is EDF will say one thing and do another."
As a result, this is the second time in a week that 'South West Against Nuclear' (SWAN) campaigners have taken possession of the Hinkley Point site, which is also protected under International Environmental law.
Last Tuesday (February 7), campaigners took to trees on the site, in a bid to stop them being cut down arguing that removing the trees would unnecessarily destroy the site if planning permission is not given. The first phase of the preparation works will include removal of hedgerows and all trees, stripping of all topsoil and leveling of the landscape.
Somerset campaigner Theo Simon, said "We want to reclaim this land and make sure that the wildlife that inhabits it and forages here is protected. Giving permission to clear the land before Planning Permission has even been granted clearly gives the message to EDF that permission is a done deal. I, and many others like me, want proper public consultation and debate before we commit to a technology whose toxic legacy will remain for generations."
Questions about the Government's process of developing energy policy have also been raised by the group. Campaigner Nikki Clark explained to edieEnergy that the group believes energy policies have been based on "misleading information", and as a result "we want the whole issue to go back to government".
She added that the campaign is also "no longer just an issue about nuclear power, but also our democratic right as citizens".
Meanwhile, Stop Hinkley is also furious that new energy secretary Ed Davey has made a "complete U-turn" by promoting nuclear power in the UK after he produced the party's anti-nuclear policy in 2006.
A spokesperson for EDF said they were aware of the protestors on the site, adding that "we would hope that these individuals will choose to leave of their own accord but, if not, there are other options available."