Wind farmers worry about new nuclear plans

LONDON, ENGLAND - One of Britain's next nuclear power stations may be on top of a windfarm, sandwiched between a National Park, the Irish Sea and a prison, according to documents published by the government.

Ten of the 11 sites proposed by some of Europe's biggest utilities for building new nuclear power plants are next to existing atomic installations where many local residents work.

But future guests of Her Majesty's Prison Haverigg, Lake District visitors and the operators of a small wind farm may have an unexpected nuclear neighbor if the government approves a reactor at Kirksanton in Cumbria, in the northwest of England.

"We knew this nuclear (site proposal) was being unveiled today but we hadn't really even considered that it might fall on top of one of our windfarms," said Wind Prospect's Simon Johnson, who operates four turbines at Haverigg.

German utility RWE says land between the prison, the park and the Irish Sea could be suitable for building one of the plants the government wants to replace Britain's existing reactors.

The company's written application says the 131 hectare site lies north west of the wind farm, but the attached map shows six turbines falling within the site boundary.

The siting of a nuclear power plant complex around a wind farm would make it difficult to keep the green energy flowing.

"The plant itself would take a fair chunk of wind," the managing director of Wind Prospect, Euan Cameron, said.

"The sort of safety case and requirements that are involved in a nuclear site are such that it seems to me inconceivable that you could operate a wind turbine within it."

Ethical Bank Triodos, which owns the other four turbines is similarly unimpressed.

"It is staggering that as part of the initial screening process they don't screen out areas that are already productive sites for renewable technologies," said Matthew Clayton, operations director at Triodos Renewables.

"It just doesn't seem to be very joined up to be stamping out prime wind sites with arguably a much less sustainable technology." RWE plans to build up to six gigawatts of nuclear power plants in Britain in a joint venture with rival German utility EON — and between them have nominated four sites.

Other big European utilities, led by France's EDF Energy have nominated five other sites, with two more being put forward by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

"EDF Energy intends to build four new European Pressurized Reactors in the UK, with the first to be operational by the end of 2017," EDF Energy new nuclear build director of planning Richard Mayson, said.

Spain's Iberdrola has supported the nominations by E.ON, RWE and the NDA to build plants at Oldbury, Wylfa and Bradwell, according to the submission documents.

Land at those three existing nuclear installations is being sold at an auction which will run until the utilities stop bidding.

Comments on the proposals must be submitted by May 14 and a public consultation will follow before the government confirms which sites are suitable early next year.


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