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Western Daily Press: Somerset's Hinkley Point nuclear plant blockaded by campaigners

More than 200 anti-nuclear campaigners blockaded Hinkley Point nuclear power station yesterday to protest against Government proposals for a new wave of nuclear power stations, set to start with Hinkley C.

But EDF Energy, the French-owned company which runs Hinkley, said the long-planned blockade had no effect on the Somerset nuclear plant.

It said deliveries were brought forward and the workforce arrived on site early.

The company said it accepted the campaigners’ right to peaceful protest and it was “business as usual”.

The campaigners, from several groups, converged on Hinkley from all over the country. One 45-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon, but the protest was generally described as “good humoured”.

The protestors released 206 helium balloons to represent each day that has passed since the catastrophic explosions at the Fukushima power plant in Japan.

Andreas Speck, spokesperson for the Stop New Nuclear alliance said: “This blockade shows that people who understand the true dangers of nuclear power are prepared to use civil disobedience to get their voice heard.

“The Government has hoodwinked the public into believing that we need nuclear power to keep the lights on. But this is totally untrue.”

However according to Energy Minister Charles Hendry the UK is the world’s most exciting place for building new nuclear power stations.

Speaking at the party’s Manchester conference he said the Government was committed to be making Britain a “serious nuclear nation”.

However he warned under the Coalition Agreement the industry will get no public subsidy for the new nuclear plants being proposed, including Hinkley Point, Somerset, and Oldbury, Gloucestershire.

“We are addressing the issues of planning, of approving the reactor designs and reforming our electricity market, so the UK is now the most exciting place in Europe, if not the world, for nuclear new build,” he said.

“And with 5,000 jobs created in the construction of each new nuclear plant, our universities and colleges are already scaling up to ensure that we have the graduates and apprentices with the skills to take on those opportunities.

“So, without public subsidy and with an absolute commitment to safety, this Government is making Britain a serious nuclear nation once again. The earliest date we can have a new nuclear power station open is towards the end of the decade, so we need other plants and facilities to fill Labour’s gap.”

Mr Hendry alleged that it was under now-Labour leader Ed Miliband’s watch as Energy Secretary that the country started to face the growing prospects of black-outs.

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