Bristol Channel campaigners have warned that EDF‘s decision to remove the Acoustic Fish Deterrents (AFDs) on the cooling water intakes at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station could put massive fish stocks at risk.
An AFD is a system that guides fish away from water intakes.
A public inquiry was held into this issue by the Planning Inspectorate from 8th to 24th June.
Activist groups that had previously launched a campaign named Stop Hinkley wrote a letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice on 7th October asking him to refuse EDF’s appeal.
Since then, campaigners claim they have not received a reply.
A spokesperson from Stop Hinkley said: “The new post-Brexit Environment Act requires the Secretary of State to set a long-term legally binding target on biodiversity by late next
“On paper, George Eustice is committed to halting the decline in nature in England, and beginning the restoration of our marine environment, but on current evidence, he is failing to do so.
“He needs to set an example in tackling the global biodiversity crisis by refusing EDF’s application to remove the Acoustic Fish Deterrents, against Environment Agency advice, threatening to wipe out 11 billion fish and decimate stocks in Severn Estuary for 60 years.”
Sources told ELN that the department is giving careful consideration to all recovered appeals and the length of time taken to decide a case depends on the complexity of each case.
Chris Fayers, Head of Environment at Hinkley Point C, said: “We are committed to reducing environmental impact from a project which will play a key role in fighting climate change. Hinkley Point C is the first power station in the Severn Estuary to include fish protection measures in its design.
“The project has applied to remove one of three planned measures after studies from government marine experts showed it would have a negligible impact on local fish populations. Installing dozens of sound projectors in fast-flowing water two miles offshore poses risks to divers that cannot be justified for a system that will have little environmental benefit.”
A Hinkley Point C spokesperson told ELN: “The worst case predicted effect of Hinkley Point C with the planned two fish protection measures in place varies by species, from a maximum of 0.2% to less than 0.001% per year.
“Cefas concluded that this level is negligible compared with natural mortality and fishing. The predicted levels will have no effect on the sustainability of each species nor on the predators that rely on the fish to survive.”