EXPERTS suggest the former BNFL site at Capenhurst is unlikely to be seriously considered as a location for one of Britain’s new nuclear power stations.
The Government announced last week that private energy firms will be encouraged to build up to 10 power stations to relieve the country’s future dependence on conventional fuels.
Business Secretary John Hutton, speaking in the Commons, said new power plants would be built close to “existing nuclear facilities”, not existing plants.
Consultants will now look at possible sites across Britain, and Capenhurst could be one of them.
But the vast plot on the edge of Ellesmere Port, which was last used for the enrichment of uranium in 1982, is now well into a massive decommissioning exercise.
And although a spokesman for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority could not say if it would be considered as a potential power plant, he pointed out its unsuitability on one key point.
This is that unlike existing nuclear plants at Sellafield in Cumbria and Wylfa on Anglesey, it is not close to the sea.
Brian Hough said: “Capenhurst is an inland site and it would therefore be very difficult to get the required supply of water to cool the reactor.”
Mr Hough added that as part of the process of coming up with likely sites, people were being asked for their opinion of the power-generating idea.
Up to now only those close to Sellafield and Wylfa had gone along with it, while the local stakeholder group for Capenhurst had expressed a preference for it retaining its nuclear licence after decommissioning but with uranium enrichment continuing at the adjacent site operated by Urenco Ltd.
The site, which is managed and operated by Sellafield Ltd on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, is scheduled to become the country’s first nuclear installation to complete its clean-up programme in 2009.
In a statement to MPs, Mr Hutton said he expected several new nuclear plants to be up and running by 2020, because they could be fast- tracked through planning.
Four sites in the south, Hinkley Point in Somerset, Sizewell, Bradwell in Essex and Dungeness in Kent, are considered the most likely first candidates.
Any new power stations will be bitterly fought by environmentalists, who believe nuclear power is expensive, dirty and dangerous.
Controversially, the Government has signalled that an unelected “Infrastructure Planning Commission”, rather than a planning inquiry, will decide any proposal.