FEARS about 200 metre high cooling towers being built at Shepperdine have been taken to the House of Lords.

Lord John Cope of Berkeley, who was once the Conservative MP for Northavon, raised concerns about the impact cooling towers would have on the area at a debate in the House of Lords.

Lord Cope, who was made a Life Peer in 1997 after losing his seat to Steve Webb, spoke during a debate on the energy Draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for Nuclear Power, which identifies Shepperdine, near Oldbury, as a suitable location for a new nuclear power station.

Lord Cope said both he and the local area had long supported the existing Oldbury Power Station.

However, he explained the community’s growing concern about the potential 200 metre high cooling towers that could be built with a new station.

He said: "The new proposals reject the idea of using the river water for cooling. Some may think, as I do, that as the available rivercooling water was the point of choosing the Oldbury site in the first place, that would rule out using the site for the new station. Yet is apparently does not."

Lord Cope said he supported the idea of a new nuclear power station in South Gloucestershire but rejected the need for cooling towers.

He said: "There is no way 200 metre cooling towers could be mitigated by, for instance, planting trees.

"The largest tree in the world, a Californian Redwood, is 115 metres high - just over half the height of the proposed cooling towers and has only reached that height after 1,000 years or more."

Lord Philip Hunt, minister of state for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the government department behind the draft NPS, said: "The new station may have more than eight times the electrical capacity for the current station. If it were direct-cooled, it would need to extract from and discharge into the river on the order of eight times the quantity of water.

"The fear is that the warm water discharge would impose an unacceptable heat load on the river and the estuary."