Bradwell B team wins appeal to conduct land investigations for proposed nuclear power station

By Charlotte Lillywhite

9th Nov 2021 | Local News

Aerial perspective of the proposed Bradwell B nuclear power station in Bradwell-on-Sea in the Maldon district
Aerial perspective of the proposed Bradwell B nuclear power station in Bradwell-on-Sea in the Maldon district

The team behind the proposed nuclear power station for Bradwell B has won an appeal over Maldon District Council to conduct land investigations on the site.

The district council refused to allow the team to carry out temporary ground investigations and load testing works on the proposed site at Bradwell-on-Sea in August 2020.

But a planning inspector has now granted planning permission for the investigations, on the basis that the proposed development "would not have an adverse effect on the integrity of the Dengie".

The ground investigations are set to take place over a maximum of two years, and the load testing works over three years.

The inspector said: "The drilling and other intrusive works would be limited and localised and there is scope within the site to adjust locations for the works to respond to ecological constraints.

"Therefore, the effects on species and habitats would be minimised."

Alan Rayman, chief executive at Bradwell B, said: "We welcome the Planning Inspectorate's decision, which recognises the significant work that our team has done to avoid impacts for the community and the surrounding environment.

"Bradwell B is a hugely important project, which will deliver low carbon electricity to support net zero, as well as create significant job and economic benefits locally and regionally.

"This decision allows us to continue to work diligently to move the project forward.

"The works under consideration have only ever been a way to understand more about the site for Bradwell B, allowing informed design and mitigation to be proposed ahead of future consultation with the public and ultimately an application for development consent for the power station itself.

"We look forward to resuming these investigative works at the appropriate time and we will keep our neighbouring communities fully informed."

China General Nuclear (CGN) and French energy giant EDF are partners in the Bradwell B Power Generation Company - the company formed to bring about Bradwell B.

The site is proposed for Bradwell-on-Sea in the Maldon district.

During the appeal, a new issue was raised regarding the potential impact of the works on seahorses.

The planning inspector, who held a one-day hearing on the topic in September this year, said "there is no credible evidence that there are risks to the short-snouted/spiny seahorse in this particular case, either within the ditch and dyke network of the appeal site or the Blackwater Estuary".

Intrusive ground investigation works now set to take place on the site involve up to 30 rotary or sonic drilled exploratory holes, up to 130 cable percussion boreholes, in-situ testing, up to 60 Cone Penetration Test (CPT) probes and up to 30 trial and observation pits.

Load test investigations will involve a 200 metre by 100-metre-wide, 8-10 metres deep open cut excavation, surface and underground measuring instrumentation and plate load tests.

There will be two engineered earth fill embankments and two compounds.

The planning inspector added conditions to the planning permission for the works, which include limiting the height of the temporary structures in the load test area and the hours of the investigations.

Professor Andrew Blowers, chair of Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG), said the group is "disappointed" with the decision.

He said: "BANNG is disappointed with the outcome of the planning appeal as we have consistently maintained that permission for land investigations should be refused on the grounds that it would pave the way for a potential application for a new nuclear power station that would unnecessarily and utterly disturb and destroy the precious terrestrial and marine ecology of the Dengie Peninsula and the Blackwater estuary."

In July, a Whitehall source confirmed a report by the Financial Times that the government is seeking to remove CGN from future projects in the UK - this would exclude the group from its Bradwell B project.

Peter Banks, coordinator of BANNG, said: "BANNG has concluded that it is very likely that should the work proceed it will be in advance of the Bradwell B project being dropped altogether.

"This would be on the grounds that the geopolitical concerns to have Chinese designed Hualong UK HPR1000 reactors as part of the UK's national infrastructure would provide a significant threat to national security.

"Bradwell B is not specifically included in the government's latest documentation 'Net Zero Strategy'.

"Therefore, with this appeal having been granted and should the work subsequently be carried out - for a never-to-be built Bradwell B - the devastation to such a naturally sensitive area, with multiple environmental designations, would be totally unnecessary."

The team at Bradwell B said it will continue to work with the district council to "progress the project".


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