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Public urged to have a say on UK plan for new nuclear power plant

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The Irish public can have their say on Britain's new nuclear power station plans after an invitation to comment was issued to neighbouring countries.

Britain is pushing ahead with plans for the Sizewell C plant on the English east coast, about 150km north east of London. The facility is expected to take nine to 12 years to construct and, once completed, would generate power for 60 years.

NNB Generation Company, which is behind the project, recently completed environmental assessments and has applied to the UK Planning Inspectorate for permission to proceed.

As part of that process, it must engage in consultation with the public and, under international transboundary agreements, that includes the public in Ireland and other neighbouring countries.

In a statement, the Planning Inspectorate said: "The secretary of state is of the view that the proposed development is not likely to have significant effects in any other states outside of the UK."

The Government here has been invited to make observations, however, and a spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said they would be responding.

"The UK authorities have officially notified Ireland through the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) of an application for development consent for a nuclear plant at Sizewell C," the spokesperson said.

"DHPLG is currently consulting with other government parties and agencies to decide whether a public consultation is required. This department intends to respond to the notification, once the Environmental Protection Agency has had sufficient time to consider these issues."

Attracta Uí Bhroin, environmental law officer with the Irish Environmental Network, urged the public to make their views on the plant known.

"The fact that it's not on the west coast of England might make people think it's not so important but that is irrelevant. Chernobyl was a lot further away and we still received radiation from that," she said.

"The possibility of something going wrong is very low but there is no going back from the ramifications if something does go wrong. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown us that."

Ms Uí Bhroin said having Ireland's voice heard was all the more important in the context of Brexit as the UK was considering withdrawing from Euratom, the European nuclear agency.

"We've been very reliant on Europe for oversight of nuclear issues concerning us and if the UK pulls out of Euratom, that oversight is gone."

Planning application documents can be viewed at www.sizewellcdco.co.uk.

Details of how to comment before the September 30 deadline, plus an online submission form, are on the Planning Inspectorate website.

Irish Independent