A CAMPAIGN group which is objecting to the construction of a new nuclear power station has called the developers’ next step “a gamble”.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation announced the start of Step 4 of the Bradwell B project.

This means it has reached the final stage before a public consultation.

A more detailed assessment of the design of the Chinese HPR1000 reactor and of the supporting evidence provided by CGN will continue to be open to public comment.

Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group is leading the opposition to the development.

The group has likened the move to reaching a hurdle – not passing a milestone.

They said it is at this stage that all the tricky issues facing the Bradwell B project must be confronted, including the cooling system, site suitability, security, coastal defence and impacts on marine and terrestrial environments.

Chairman Andy Blowers said: “It seems that the Chinese developers are taking a risk in trying to present the public and politicians with an apparent ‘fait accompli’ well before major design and environmental hurdles have been crossed.

“We have a developer seemingly hell-bent on pushing Bradwell B forward with partially developed plans.

“There are formidable regulatory hurdles to overcome before the project is ready for public consultation.

“Rather than gamble on getting it done quickly, it would be better to cut and run from a project that may be doomed to disappear.”

The Bradwell B project is in an early planning stage, which has so far involved several years of investigative works.

The project is currently preparing its initial proposals ahead of undertaking detailed public consultation.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation’s head of regulation Ana Gomez-Cobo said: “The objective for generic design assessment is to provide confidence that the proposed design is capable of being constructed, operated and decommissioned in accordance with the standards of safety, security and environmental protection required in Great Britain.

“During Step 3 of the assessment, we have undertaken assessment work across 19 technical disciplines and covered topics of a cross-cutting nature.

“Our assessment to date has not identified any fundamental safety or security shortfalls that would prevent us issuing a design acceptance confirmation for the UK HPR1000 design.”

Energy companies CGN and EDF submitted an application through their joint venture company General Nuclear System to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2016 to begin the assessment process for a UK version of the nuclear technology.

GNSL managing director Zhu Minhong said: “Moving into Step 4 marks the culmination of several years of hard work and is a major milestone for both the UK HPR1000 and the Bradwell B project. It brings closer the deployment of a fleet of new power stations that will play a major role in supporting the Government’s target of net zero by 2050.”

CGN is the world’s biggest developer of new nuclear power stations and the third largest nuclear enterprise in the world, with five units under construction in China.