PRELIMINARY work for a new nuclear power station at Shepperdine is due to start next month.

Hydrock, an Almondsbury-based firm, is set to begin work on land on behalf of energy giant E.ON in preparation for a new generation nuclear power station.

E.ON started to buy up land last year near to Shepperdine and Oldbury with the intention of building a new power station, plans which have been met with some opposition from local residents.

The company has already completed seismic studies on the land but it now wants to conduct some more detailed investigations.

"It will improve our understanding of the site geology and help us determine the type of foundations that would be required for any future power station," said Emily Highmore, spokeswoman for E.ON.

The work, which is due to start on Monday, August 3, will involve drilling about 20 boreholes on the land. Material taken from these holes will then be examined.

Ms Highmore said: "The boreholes will be about six inches in diameter and will be drilled vertically down into the ground to depths between about 10 metres and 80 metres.

"The material that is recovered from the holes will be examined and further tests will be carried out in each borehole to provide more information about the geology and groundwater of the site.

"This will help to determine the type of foundations required for a possible new power station."

The work will be carried out by four drilling rigs which will each be powered by a diesel engine, similar to a tractor.

It is still yet to be confirmed whether or not Oldbury will get a second nuclear power station. The government is expected to make a decision on its preferred sites for the new stations by the end of the year. However, if successful E.ON could have a power station up and running by 2018 in the Oldbury area.