Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has registered his objection to a proposed nuclear power plant being built in Surrey citing concerns over public accountability and the effects on Irish agriculture in the event of an accident/incident at the plant.
Although the Sizewell C Project is proposed for Suffolk on the East coast of England and may pose a lower risk than those nuclear plants on Britain’s West coast, this does not mean, according to Cllr Cunningham, there would be zero risk to Ireland.
Cllr Cunningham has objected to the proposal under the terms of the 1991 United Nations Espoo Convention and the 2011 EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive which requires transboundary public consultation in respect of the Sizewell C Project and its potential impacts on neighbouring States.
The Drogheda Rural Councillor explained that “The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) recognised that even though the concentrations of radioactivity in the air and radioactive contamination on the ground along the east coast of Ireland in the event of an incident at Sizewell C would be one order of magnitude lower than if an incident occurred at the closest nuclear site, Wylfa, an incident at Sizewell C could still result in food controls and agricultural protective actions being introduced in Ireland. Anything that poses a threat to our fishing or agricultural economy must be challenged.”
The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) study conducted in 2016- The Potential Economic Impact of a Nuclear Incident — An Irish Case Study estimated the potential financial losses to Ireland in the event of a nuclear incident to be as high as €160bn.
Even in the lowest risk scenario where there is no actual contamination in Ireland, the reputational losses in relation to tourism and export markets could be as high as €4bn.
Cllr Cunningham said “Given that Ireland relies heavily on its food exports and tourism, in the event of an incident even the perception of contamination would lead to a significant economic impact and that is something County Louth or the country as a whole can afford.”
Cllr Cunningham also cited his concerns over the nuclear plant’s accountability after Brexit. “As part of Brexit, the British Government has opted to leave Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community. This is concerning because they would no longer be subject to the European Court of Justice and to a coordinated regulatory regime. In actual fact, concerns have also been raised by the British nuclear regulatory body, ONR regarding Britain’s readiness to leave Euratom. They also have expressed concerns regarding a skills shortage to deliver a British State System of Accountability for control of nuclear material to meet its international obligations. ONR also expressed concerns regarding the long-term funding of the new nuclear regulator which does not bode well or instil confidence.”
Cllr Cunningham said “I am concerned that any country feels they should have a free hand with nuclear power with little or no accountability to an international body like Euratom, but I am particularly concerned when that country is our nearest neighbour and the people in County Louth and along the East coast of Ireland could be affected.”
In conclusion Cllr Cunningham said “Given the absence of access to the European Court of Justice after Brexit, the concern of the long term funding of a new nuclear regulator and the potential impacts to the Irish public and our economy, I feel it is imperative that this proposal be challenged and stopped. In this day and age we should be looking for safer and more eco-friendly ways of generating power anyway.”
If you would like to submit an objection to the Nuclear Power Plant then please contact Cllr Cunningham through facebook for details. All objections should be lodged before 28th October 2020