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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 16:18 GMT
British Energy eyes nuclear sites
A British Energy power station in Hinkley
British Energy says access to the grid is a key issue
British Energy has named eight of its sites as possible locations for next-generation nuclear plants.

The firm earmarked Sizewell in Suffolk, Hinkley in Somerset, Bradwell in Essex and Dungeness in Kent for development.

It also named Heysham in Lancashire, Torness in East Lothian, Hunterston in Ayrshire and Hartlepool.

The firm said flood defence and coast protection could make nuclear power possible at all eight sites. The UK is to define its nuclear policy in 2008.

Transmission

The news was part of a review of site work needed to counter the impact of climate change.

There have been concerns that rising sea water and increasingly heavy rains could threaten power stations on coastal sites.

But the report, based on research by engineering consultancy, the Halcrow group, found "the key conclusion is that flood defence and coast protection measure can be deployed to make replacement build a feasible option at all sites".

"Relying solely on current engineering methods and knowledge, the sites can be made robust against climate change impacts for the expected lifetimes of the replacement stations," it added.

However, the firm said access to the grid is likely to be an important constraining factor in selecting sites.

The firm has already embarked on transmission connection agreements with National Grid for each of the key sites it owns in the South of England at Sizewell, Hinkley, Dungeness and Bradwell, starting in 2016.

In October the firm took two reactors at Hartlepool and two at Heysham out of service after a routine inspection showed problems with the boiler units.

Studies to assess the different locations would vary but would include examinations of flora and fauna, fisheries and other marine ecology, landscape, geology, noise and air quality.

The firm said it remained "flexible" about how the sites would be developed and on the choice of reactor design.

'Mind made up'

Friends of the Earth's campaigner Neil Crumpton said that it was "crazy" to build a new generation of nuclear reactors.

"The new reactor designs are all untested prototypes, and the shortage of skills and component availability to build new stations would seriously compromise speedy or safe deployment," he said.

"We can meet our power needs, maintain energy security and tackle climate change through a comprehensive programme of renewables, energy efficiency and cleaner carbon technology."

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrat's spokesman for business, enterprise and regulatory reform, Lembit Opik, accused the government of having decided that it wanted new nuclear power stations before its consultation was over.

"While British Energy is entitled to do what it thinks best, its decision appears to indicate the government has already made up its mind," he said.


British Energy's sites



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