One of the people at the meeting was Theo Simon, local musician and inveterate eco-campaigner, who put some very probing questions on the subject. Since this is something that will affect the people of Somerset for generations, and that will still be there to be dealt with long after the power station has ceased to generate electricity and long after any supposed benefit to the community has ceased, isn’t this a matter that the local authority can voice its opinion on as part of the planning process?
No, said the County Council functionaries, it isn’t. The nuclear waste facility is part of the overall plan as designed and presented to us by central government. The nuclear waste, we all hope, will be taken away and stored safely and securely in a large hole in the ground before the 160 years are up.
But where will this hole be? asked Theo. For 30 years or more there’s been talk of putting it at Sellafield, but the geological reports aren’t encouraging and nothing has actually happened – in fact there is no sign of anything actually happening.
That may be true, came the reply (with just a hint of a wry smile), but it’s nothing to do with us. It is outside, in a technical sense, the competence of Somerset County Council.
So that’s as far as the discussion could go. Hinkley Point may end up being home to the biggest nuclear power plant in the country, but that would only be a potential problem for 50 years or so. Hinkley Point’s nuclear waste dump could last more-or-less forever.
We were promised a proper public meeting in the Town Hall, but no hope at all that it would produce anything other than more of the same.
Last February, Theo set out on a more radical course of action when he helped to instigate an occupation of the deserted farm on the land being prepared for the new construction. EDF successfully took the occupiers to court and had them evicted within a few weeks, but there were some lovely little films made that are still up on youtube and well worth a watch:
Hinkley Point site occupation:
Eviction papers arrive at Hinkley Point occupation site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCphZejZPZQ
There’s also Theo Simon’s blog (including his memorable email debate with George Monbiot): http://theosimon.wordpress.com/
And whilst I’m at it, there is of course the Stop Hinkley campaign: http://www.stophinkley.org/