Eco Corner - Hinckley Point

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Hinckley Point

With the confirmation by the Government of the plan to build a further nuclear power plant at Hinckley Point in Somerset, the future supply of energy to the homes and factories of Britain is once again front page news. It is a debatable issue because of the involvement with France and China and because of the expense, but there are more basic reasons for doubt , highlighted by news of difficulties at Sellafield, where nuclear waste is supposed to be safely dealt with.

It is claimed that when the power station comes on stream, Britain will depend on nuclear power for 7% of its electricity, meeting a need which is expected to grow. Unlike the so-called "dirty" power stations, which depend on burning coal, oil or gas, the site of a nuclear plant cannot be cleaned up and made use of for some other purpose in anyone's lifetime, if ever. Only by forgetting about Chernobyl, Fukushima and Trawsfynydd in Wales can we possibly describe nuclear power as "Clean". It may not have tall chimneys pouring out carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but it leaves behind a footprint on Nature which will only become larger and is virtually permanent.

We really need to start investing in renewables, like wind, sun and tidal power, and not just push the day of reckoning a few decades into the future by using a process which will leave such a legacy behind it. In contrast, there is nothing new about either wind or water power, but modern technology has brought both to a high degree of efficiency, and there are no waste products. Solar panels are certainly new and are still evolving and becoming cheaper.

Domestic solar installations are becoming more common and less obtrusive. The obvious sites, however, are the roofs of factories and commercial buildings like supermarkets and those vast warehouses from which the goods you have ordered on line are despatched. It should be one of the requirements when considering the planning application for any such use of land.

Bob Weighton

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