FEARS have been raised that the policing of power stations could be compromised by a proposed Government shake-up.

The Defence Police Federation warns that a Government proposal to merge the UK’s two nuclear police forces would not only be costly and messy, but could create a conflict of interest between protecting Britain’s weapons and its power stations.

The Ministry of Defence and the Department of Energy and Climate Change have launched a study into whether amalgamating MoD police, which looks after nuclear bomb bases and other military sites, and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, which has responsibility for nuclear power plants, would be viable.

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary has just under 1,000 officers based at 17 civil nuclear sites, including Sizewell in Suffolk and Dungeness in Kent.

Officers have never been based at the existing Bradwell power station site, which is being decommissioned after ceasing to operate a decade ago*2002*, but they could yet be based in the coastal village if a new plant is built.

Land close to the existing plant was identified by the Government last year as one of eight sites suitable for a new build power station, although priority is though to lie with potential new plants at Sizewell, in Suffolk, or at Hinckley Point, Somerset.

Andy Blowers, chairman of West Mersea pressure group Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (Banng), says he hopes safety at nuclear power stations is not compromised by any potential changes.

But the Department of Energy and Climate Change insists the two police forces already work closely and that potential conflicts of interest will be considered as part of the ongoing scoping study.