Campaigners fear millions of fish could be killed every day by the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station near Burnham-On-Sea if owner EDF is allowed to back out of a planning condition.
The Stop Hinkley anti-nuclear group has said this week that EDF Energy had refused to fit acoustic fish deterrents on its two off-shore massive cooling water intake heads.
Stop Hinkley spokeswoman Katy Attwater said EDF now looked to be pressuring the Environment Agency to drop the planning condition which required the acoustic fish deterrent measures.
It comes as the Environment Agency launches a four-week consultation on whether the Hinkley C site’s operational water discharge activity permit should be varied.
Stop Hinkley Spokesperson Katy Attwater adds: “It looks to us very much like the Environment Agency is being forced to make a decision which conservation groups fear will result in the death of millions of fish every day.”
“The Severn Estuary supports some of the most important and protected habitats in the UK, EDF appears to be absolutely determined not to spend the money to install AFD’s and is pressurising the Agency into backing down.”
“This change would be disastrous for the Severn estuary and all the fish species it supports, to breed and travel into its tributaries, nine of the greatest rivers of England and Wales.”
However, Chris Fayers, Head of Environment for Hinkley Point C, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “EDF has decades of experience and data gained from taking cooling water from the Bristol Channel, which shows the activity has an insignificant impact on protected species. In addition, Hinkley Point C will be the first power station in the area to be built with fish protection measures in place.”
“EDF is working with the Environment Agency, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales to develop a proportionate and robust compensation package to mitigate any impact.”
“Alongside working on compensation, we are seeking a permit variation to avoid duplicate regulation, which will be consulted on by the Environment Agency. Reaching an agreement is essential for the delivery of this vital piece of national infrastructure.”