A CAMPAIGNER is calling for the company behind the new power station in Oldbury to reveal whether the cooling towers will be “higher than the old Severn Crossing” as he fears.

Retired University of Bristol professor Gareth Williams, who lives in Rockhampton, believes the power station planned by Horizon Nuclear Power could have huge cooling towers and that the surrounding countryside would be “wrecked by building a new road for the construction traffic.”

“We think it is in the wrong place,” said Prof Williams, who has campaigned with others against the proposals as part of the Shepperdine Against Nuclear Energy group.

“To keep it operating safely, they will need cooling towers. Standard cooling towers would be higher than the old Severn Crossing, which could be seen from as far away as the Wye Valley and Cotswold Edge.

“But even if they don’t go for the largest option, they will still be an eyesore, with a mile of industrial estate ruining our landscape.”

A public consultation on the preferred reactor type, the Hitachi-GE’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, is currently underway but Prof Williams said no mention has been made of the inclusion of cooling towers, and he was only informed when he specifically asked representatives from the Environment Agency and Horizon.

“They say they left them out of the design because they don’t know how many they are going to have. But to me that is deceptive as people will look at the pictures for an idea of what it will look like.”

Professor Williams also criticised the information that was given, saying it was full of jargon and too complicated for regular people to understand, as well as a promotional picture that included no towers.

He said: “I am a scientist and I had no idea what in the material they had given us was relevant and important.

“They need to be honest. Saying they “don’t know yet” isn’t good enough”

A spokeswoman from Horizon Nuclear Power said that the proposals for the new station at Oldbury were “still in the very early stages” with focus remaining on their lead site in Anglesey, which they would expect to begin operating within the first half of the 2020’s, with Oldbury to follow.

She said: “We know that any modern reactor design at Oldbury would require the need for cooling towers and we’ve stated for some years that our preference would be a lower hybrid design, which are in line with the height of the former power station.

“We will continue to keep local people up to date as our proposals for Oldbury develop. We will also carry out formal public consultations on both sides of the river, giving local people the opportunity to review our plans in detail and give us their feedback.”

Alan McGoff from the Environment Agency said that at this stage they are focusing on the design of the reactor rather than specific proposals for Oldbury. 

He said: “Listening to the views of local people is important to us and we’re grateful that many people found the time to participate and to contribute to our lively discussion.”

To respond to the consultation email gda@environment-agency.gov.uk or post a comment to FAO Declan Roscoe, Environment Agency, Ghyll Mount, Gillan Way, Penrith 40 Business Park, Penrith, Cumbira, CA11 9BP