Page last updated at 00:32 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 01:32 UK

Life on the nuclear shortlist

By Rachael Howorth
Open Country, Radio 4

Kirksanton is one of two possible greenfield sites for nuclear plants

As the thundering hooves of her enormous Clydesdale horses crash into the surf it is easy to see why Annie Rose brought her business to the Cumbrian coast.

Running Britain's only stables specializing in offering rides on Clydesdale and Shire horses, she guides riders from the peaks of the Lake District to the beach at Kirksanton.

Bringing her powerful horse to a halt, she reflects on the shock so many locals felt when this tiny village was named as one of the potential sites for a new generation of nuclear power stations.

"It would be directly where we are now and you can just imagine the impact this would have," she says.

Skilled jobs

Eleven sites were short-listed by the government for development. Nine were next to existing reactors; just two were greenfield sites, at Braystones and Kirksanton, both in West Cumbria.

Bradwell, Essex
Braystones, Cumbria
Dungeness, Kent
Heysham, Lancashire
Hinkley Point, Somerset
Kirksanton, Cumbria
Oldbury, South Gloucestershire
Sellafield, Cumbria
Sizewell, Suffolk
Wylfa, north Wales

The prospect of skilled jobs coming to this isolated region appeals to some in the area, but many of those running small businesses in Kirksanton fear for their future.

Pauline Preston's garden would back directly onto the power plant if it were to go ahead.

She operates a horticultural business supplying ornamental grasses to the major flower shows at Chelsea and Hampton Court.

Pauline believes that initial plans for the two types of reactors which are currently undergoing testing suggest that her garden and those of her neighbours, "when it's low sun… will be in complete shade".

'Fallback option'

Carl Carter is the researcher for local Labour MP Jamie Reid. He is convinced that the power station "is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this area to become economically sustainable".

"If the power station were to go ahead - there would be the opportunity for well-paid, highly-skilled jobs… for the young people of this area to get meaningful work, good qualifications, develop local skills and grow our economy," he says.

Nearby Sellafield has the longest nuclear history of any UK community

While understanding the reasons for people wanting to stop the development, he says: "It's exquisitely beautiful - but we can't live on views."

However, he suggests that the Kirksanton site is really a fallback option to be used only if the site of the existing nuclear facilities at Sellafield, 20 miles up the coast, proves impossible to build on.

Maggie Cummings, who owns holiday accommodation in the village, says she cannot rely on the idea that Kirksanton is not the preferred Cumbrian option - and plans to keep fighting until the future of her business and her village is secure.

"If it can happen here, in what is a relatively unknown and spectacular area of outstanding beauty, then it can happen anywhere else up and down the country. So, for those people out there who live in a very similar site to us; unspoilt, dramatic, quiet - beware!"

Helen Mark visits Kirksanton for 'Open Country' on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 22 August at 0607 GMT and Thursday 27 August at 1500 BST.

Map of nominated power stations

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