(Updated 25/2/08 after comment from the power station on 'advance booking' concerns): Residents around Heysham Nuclear Power Station are being offered the chance to hear first hand about plans to nominate land next to the site for new nuclear build -- even though such plans were dismissed in the past, as geological problems mean the Heysham site is not suitable for expansion.
People interested in making their views known are also being asked to give their names and contact details in advance of attending -- more details below.
Public consultations for other major local development projects such as Sainsbury's and Centros have never made such a request, which rather makes us wonder why you have to do this, unless of course organisers EDF Energy are anticipating some kind of mass protest...
However, a spokesperson for Heysham told virtual-lancaster there was "'nothing sinister in asking for names.
"The interest for similar meetings at Hinkley and Sizewell got close to being over-subscribed in terms of venue size and fire licence etc.," he explained. "But as The Platform is cavernous I don't see that being an issue at Heysham and people can just turn up anyway."
Earlier this year, the Government published details of the process by which the nuclear industry can nominate sites for potential new nuclear power stations and the criteria against which potential sites will be assessed.
EDF Energy, which now incorporates British Energy, intends to nominate land next to the existing Heysham power stations as part of that process.
“While the company’s new build focus is in the south of England where the need for new generating capacity is most urgent, we believe the Heysham site is a good candidate for new nuclear," says Paul Winkle, station director of Heysham 2 power station. “However, before a nomination is made, we want to explain the Government’s nomination process and give local people the opportunity to discuss the issues with members of staff from the company.”
“We are proud of our strong links into the community here at Heysham," added Gwen Parry-Jones, station director of Heysham 1 power station, "and I hope that people come to the meeting to hear about our site nomination plans and raise any issues they feel we need to consider.”
The Government has set out how the nomination process will work. Site nominations must be received by 31st March 2009. The list of nominated sites will published shortly after, followed by an initial month-long opportunity for the public to express their views on how the sites match up to the criteria.
British Energy has been looking at each of its sites as potential for new build and carrying out strategic site assessments at each for some time. It has put in grid applications as a precursor to new build at its sites at Hinkley, Sizewell, Dungeness, and Bradwell - so they would be part of the first wave of any new build.
As part of the takeover of British Energy by EdF, the land at the Heysham and Dungeness earmarked for potential new build - but not the existing stations - will have to be sold to another company who would use it for a new nuclear station.
• An exhibition and public meeting will be held at The Platform, Morecambe, on Tuesday 10th March. The exhibition opens at 3.30pm and the public meeting starts at 7.0pm.
• Due to anticipated demand, people are asked to register their attendance at the meeting in advance. This can be done by submitting your name and contact details by email to email@example.com, or by phone on 0800 980 3195 or on-line at www.british-energy.com.
• More information on how people can have their say is available on the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s website at www.nuclearpowersiting.decc.gov.uk