Page last updated at 17:23 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Howard to fight nuclear decision

Exterior of Dungeness B nuclear power station
The existing Dungeness B reactor will remain open until 2018

Kent MP Michael Howard has vowed to fight the government's decision to reject Dungeness as a site for one of 10 new nuclear power stations.

The site has one active and one decommissioned power plant but is near a nature reserve and was ruled unsuitable on environmental grounds.

Mr Howard said the decision would have an impact on jobs.

But environmental campaigners said the area's shingle banks were "unique" and the government made the right decision.

The 10 sites deemed suitable for future nuclear plants are Bradwell in Essex, Braystones, Kirksanton and Sellafield in Cumbria, Hartlepool, Heysham in Lancashire, Hinkley Point in Somerset, Oldbury in Gloucestershire, Sizewell in Suffolk and Wylfa in north Wales.

I think the habitat of Dungeness is indeed quite special but we already have two nuclear power stations there
Michael Howard MP

Dungeness was rejected because of worries about the threat to the local eco-system from coastal erosion and flooding should a new plant be constructed there.

The decision will now be subject to a 15-week consultation.

Mr Howard, whose Folkestone and Hythe constituency includes the Romney Marsh, accused the government of letting environmental considerations outweigh the need to protect local jobs.

Dungeness ruling will 'hit jobs'

He said: "The reason why the government have come to this decision has nothing to do with coastal erosion or dangers of flooding but just purely due to the habitat of Dungeness.

"I think the habitat of Dungeness is indeed quite special but we already have two nuclear power stations there and nuclear energy has been a part of the economy of Romney Marsh for decades now and most people on the marsh want that to continue and so do I."

He added: "There is a scarcity of jobs on Romney Marsh and the power stations have been providing jobs for decades. I like them to continue to do that."

Sam Dawes, of RSPB South East, said: "Its vast shingle landscape has everything from bitterns to marsh harriers, from rare plants to tiny beetles found nowhere else in Britain.

"It is a place that really does justify the word unique, and that helps make it a special place for people too."

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "We have given the reasons for excluding Dungeness but we have opened it up for consultation so he [Michael Howard] has the opportunity that and welcome any submissions people want to make."

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