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Environment Agency rejects EDF’s appeal against requirement to protect millions of fish from Hinkley C’s huge cooling system

 A report threatens to undermine the government’s Sizewell C plan after it sided with opponents who claim a plughole to cool a similar nuclear reactor could kill millions of fish. Boris Johnson promised £700 million for the Sizewell C power station in Suffolk in a speech last week, saying he was “absolutely confident” the project would “get over the line”.

A day later an inspector threw out an appeal by EDF, the French energy company, against the installation of a fish deterrent device relating to Hinkley Point C in Somerset, which EDF is building. Environmentalists claim that without the device, millions of fish could be killed after being sucked into the large cooling system for the new reactor. EDF now has to install the technology or be at risk of paying compensation, which experts say could run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Campaigners claim the saga is directly relevant to the proposed Sizewell C plant, which is also being developed by EDF and uses the same technology. The Blue Marine Foundation was one of six groups that opposed the plans from EDF. Priyal Bunwaree, the foundation’s lawyer, said: “EDF decided to build the largest engineering project in Europe in the middle of a marine protected area in the Severn estuary and then claimed it would have no adverse effect on the species within it. This was a colossal blunder and they were poorly advised. “The company must now find a technical solution to stop killing so many fish or pay compensation which we estimate could run into hundreds of millions.”

Bunwaree added that similar legal issues could be an obstacle to opening Sizewell C. “The sad
thing about Sizewell is that there has been no proper assessment of damage to the marine environment, so it is likely the same legal issue will arise there,” she said. The Hinkley C cooling system, described as a giant plughole under the sea, will suck in 130,000 litres of water per second. The twin inlet tunnels, stretching two miles out into the Severn estuary, are so big that a double-decker bus could drive through them.

Conservation groups say it will kill up to 250,000 fish a day and must be altered or scrapped. EDF appealed against the Environment Agency’s requirement that it fit an “acoustic fish deterrent” to the cooling system. It argued that it was dangerous for divers to install the fish deterrent device in
the fast waters of the Bristol Channel. An inquiry into the appeal was held last year. The inspector and George Eustice, the environment secretary who endorsed his conclusions, said that before the Hinkley plant can open EDF must fit the technology to it. Experts say it will stop the deaths of an estimated 182 million fish, which will be killed in the Bristol Channel every year for the 60 years the plant is in operation. The inspector’s report said the measures are required by law to protect cod, herring, bass and whiting and migratory species such as Atlantic salmon, allis shad and twaite shad. The report concluded that the magnitude of predicted fish deaths was more likely than EDF’s contention that there would be “no adverse effect” on species or the Bristol Channel. Some experts say the
Sizewell plant would kill 804 million fish a year.

 Times 5th Sept 2022

September 6, 2022 - Posted by | environment, Legal, UK

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