Large crowds of protesters gathered at Hinkley Point nuclear power station, near Burnham-On-Sea, on Saturday (March 10th) to mark the first anniversary of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
The protesters walked around the three mile perimeter fence to call for an end to the government’s ‘nuclear renaissance’ in the wake of the Japanese tsunami tragedy in which over 20,000 people died.
Organisers from Stop New Nuclear claimed “over 1,000 people” from all over the UK converged at the main gates of Hinkley Power power station although EDF disputed the figures and said up to 450 protesters were in attendance.
Speaking at the demonstration, Martyn Rowe, a verteran anti-nuclear campaigner, said he had not seen such a large turnout since the mass protest against the construction of the Torness nuclear power station in 1979.
“It is clear that the tide is turning against the government’s push for a ‘nuclear renaissance’. The British public is waking up to the fact that ‘new nuclear’ is dangerous, expensive and completely unnecessary,” he said.
Environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, also speaking at the rally, said he found it “unbelievable” that nuclear energy was being put forward as a solution to climate change and he called on the government reconsider its energy strategy.
He added: “It is clear we can do everything we need to do without nuclear power. The whole thing is being fixed to suit the nuclear industry. In Germany, they are working towards a nuclear-free future that affordable and realistic. Why is it we don’t think Germany is a really good model to follow?”
Gordon Bell, spokesman for the station owner EDF, said Hinkley Point B had conducted a “full and proper review” to ensure EDF learnt from the lessons of Fukushima.
Mr Bell said that while the independent Office of Nuclear Regulation has declared that it is satisfied with the results of all the stress tests on the site, EDF had looked for opportunities to make its sites even safer. “We must ensure we are never complacent and continue to strive towards improving safety at every opportunity,” he said.
The Hinkley Point site is earmarked for a new nuclear power station comprising two reactors, as pictured in the photomontage above.