All images (c) 2010 D. Viesnik*
A large group of campaigners, together with local residents including children, held banners and placards in front of Hinkley Point, preventing any traffic movements. The Hinkley main gates were forced to shut from 11.45 to 12.45pm and no traffic entered or left during that time. Some of the protestors wore face paint images of sunflowers, the Stop Hinkley logo and anti-nuclear signs. Others dressed as nuclear 'boffins' and with a loudhailer led a march through the ear-marked greenfield site.
The 'nuclear boffins' highlighted badger setts which had been cemented over or had been covered with metal grills, beautiful old woodlands and individual trees destined to be bulldozed and they walked down some of the scores of sunken lanes criss-crossing the fields lined by ancient hedgerows brimming with wildlife.
At the coast the tour-guides showed where the so-called 'temporary' jetty will be built over the 200 million year old fossil-filled rocky beach.
At the beach destination of the march, one campaigner read aloud a poem on the need to respect nature and its part in global ecology.
Crispin Aubrey, spokesman for Stop Hinkley who marshalled the demonstration, said: "There is obvious strong feeling against destroying this beautiful area. Despite being close to the existing power stations there are large expanses of beauty and tranquility. It's wrong for EdF to jump the gun by trashing the area such a long time before it receives major consents for the two reactors."
The protest was part of a two day Action Weekend. Yesterday a series of talks and workshops took place in Bridgwater for campaigners around the region. Three national-level speakers gave talks:
Ben Ayliffe, nuclear campaigner for Greenpeace said: "Greenpeace is opposed to new nuclear power stations because they would make a minimal contribution towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they have multiple dangers from long-lived radioactive waste through to nuclear proliferation, and they are a distraction from real solutions such as renewable energy."
"In particular we see two major problems - waste disposal and economics – both could sink the proposal for Hinkley C," he said.
"The coalition government has said that there will be no subsidies for new nuclear plant. Economics could be the thing that makes it impossible for Hinkley C to go ahead. No nuclear power station has ever been built without public subsidy.”
On waste he said that the amount EDF were being asked to pay for disposing of the radioactive legacy from Hinkley C was not enough to cover the true cost. “It amounts to a £1 billion subsidy to the company per year, according to our calculations,” he said.
He also referred to delays and cost over-runs on similar projects in both Finland and France, where the first reactors like the one proposed for Hinkley C are being built.
The Greenpeace strategy was to challenge the process of approving new nuclear power stations all the way. This included exposing the risky economics, promoting the alternatives and legal challenges.
Professor Chris Busby talked about studies that he, and Somerset Health authority in the eighties, had shown that there was a higher incidence of cancers round Hinkley Point and other nuclear power stations. He said the international model used by regulators to estimate the effects of radiation on human health is being widely challenged, and a former head of the international radiation commission accepted that their model did not stand up in the case of a serious accident.
"Our studies have shown raised levels of cancer along the downwind coast from Hinkley to Burnham-on-Sea. Health officials have objected to our findings on spurious grounds including random clusters in other areas but year on year we keep finding an entrenched problem near Hinkley. The officials have got it wrong."
Neil Crumpton, former Friends of the Earth energy campaigner, presented an alternative vision of the UK’s electricity supply in which nuclear power was marginalised and new sources of renewable energy, such as concentrated solar power imported from North Africa, were developed on a large scale. He also dismissed the suggestion that the lights would go out without nuclear, listing the many other options, including gas-fired plants, which were queueing up to fill any gap in supply.
"Friends of the Earth and other organisations are confident we can put forward a reasonable low carbon energy network based on current technology. More than that we can very soon tap resources like Clean Coal Technology and solar-power from the Sahara to boost our own abundant natural elements of wind, tide and wave driven electricity."
Stop Hinkley Coordinator
Quotes from Crispin Aubrey who coordinated the Action weekend: 01278 732921 / 07920 523673
Professional photographs for the media available immediately from
Simon Chapman: 07889 747916