CAMPAIGNERS battling proposals for a new nuclear power station at Bradwell could have to fight on a second front.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority has put Bradwell on a 'long-list' of 15 possible sites for the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant - STEP.

Others include Sellafield, north Wales and Dounreay, together with other nuclear and former coal-fired power station sites.

The UKAEA says the successful site will become a "global hub" for fusion energy and associated, industries and "reate thousands of highly skilled jobs during the construction and operation of the plant, while attracting investment that will enable the development of a new UK science and technology centre of excellence".

A spokesman said: "Fusion has the potential to provide an abundant source of low-carbon energy by copying the processes that power the sun and stars.

"This exciting new technology will play an important role alongside established renewable technologies such as wind and solar."

The Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group admits the decision to put Bradwell on the long-list came "out of the blue".

Chairman Prof Andy Blowers described the idea to develop fusion to produce electricity as "yet another nuclear fantasy".

BANNG said: "UKAEA’s announcement gushes with confidence and optimism for fusion which has, for seven decades, been the promised nuclear land always ten to 15 years in the future.

"Now for the downsides. Fusion is technologically complex, formidably challenging and incredibly expensive.

"It requires a temperature of 100 million degrees C, about six times hotter than the sun to create the temperatures and huge pressures that enable significant fusion reactions in hydrogen.

"So far none of the experimental reactors has produced more energy than was put into it.

"The reactor vessels are at risk of structural damage from intense radiation and eventually huge masses of radioactive materials would have to be managed as waste.

"The Bradwell site is not suitable for a Fusion experiment any more than it is for Bradwell B, the gigantic fission reactors currently being planned by the Chinese company CGN.

"Fusion requires large-scale cooling water and would release large amounts of radioactive tritium into the Blackwater estuary, the sea and atmosphere contaminating far and wide.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

  • Prof Andy Blowers is chair of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group

"If an explosion or fire occurred the radioactivity released could be disastrous."

Prof Blowers added: "One thing is sure, the Blackwater communities will not be willing to fight off Bradwell B only for another dangerous nuclear fantasy to appear in its place."

STEP programme director Paul Methven said: "STEP is about building on the amazing science done over decades in fusion and translating that into a real prototype power plant that paves the way for this fantastic new energy source.

"Selecting a site is critical for that transition to delivery and we are pleased to have received a number of high quality nominations. We are looking forward to getting to know the nominating communities as we progress through the assessment process over the next year.

"Wherever STEP is eventually built, it will bring significant benefits to the region, including employment, skills development and the development of a high-technology, low-carbon supply chain."