Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Heysham Nominated for Third Nuclear Station


Heysham is one of nine sites around the country under consideration for a new nuclear power station even though a geological fault line has in the past been cited as just one reason for no new building.

If built, the new station would join the existing eight reactors at Heysham. The BBC reports a month-long public consultation period will now commence. The government wants the first reactors operational by 2018.

Plans for new nuclear reactors across the UK have been in active discussion for over a year. Last January, The Independent on Sunday reported that the government had held at least nine secret meetings at Downing Street with the bosses of nuclear energy companies while it formulated controversial plans for a new generation of the power plants.

Since then, proposals for new nucelar power stations have gathered pace, with proposals from EDF Energyy, which now incorporates British Energy, for new nuclear building at Heysham the subject of public consultation in February (more info at here on www.nuclearpowersiting.decc.gov.uk).

A third nuclear power station was considered some years ago, provoking huge local opposition. Concerns include the confirmed existence of a geological fault in the area, reported by the now defunct Citizen newspaper. A retired engineer from the plant told the paper it meant a third power station could never be built.

In 1996, British Energy dropped plans to build a gas-fired power station at Heysham, citing inadequate transmission capacity.

Heysham 1 is currently scheduled for decommissioning in 2014 but Heysham 2, which went online in 1988, is not scheduled for decommissioning until 2023. By 2018, when the government wants the first proposed new stations operational, the Magnox fleet and most of the newer advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) will have come out of service, leaving the UK with just four operational nuclear stations.

Announcing the nomination in February, Paul Winkle, station director of Heysham 2 power station said that while the company’s new build focus is in the south of England where the need for new generating capacity is most urgent, EDF believed the Heysham site is a good candidate for new nuclear.

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.

Also on the list is Kirksanton, Cumbria which is at the foot of Black Combe right on the edge of the Lake District National Park.

• More information on Nucelar Power Siting at www.nuclearpowersiting.decc.gov.uk

• Timeline for comment: www.nuclearpowersiting.decc.gov.uk/yoursay

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