In August, Copeland Borough Council gave planning approval for development works to provide marine access to the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria.

Sellafield Ltd’s planning application, approved on 20 August, details a programme of work for the construction of a ‘steady incline’ ramp across a section of Sellafield beach, a cutting through the sand dune and the construction of a new bridge over the local River Ehen which divides the sand dune from the Sellafield site. Under the plans, specifically dedicated to ‘the Evaporator D’ project, components that are ‘too large to be transported by rail or road’ will be delivered by sea in a number of freight modules.

Costain won a £297 million contract for full engineering, procurement, construction and inactive commissioning of the Evaporator D project, The housed Evaporator building will consist of 15 in-cell modules, over 22km of pipe work bound together by over 10,000 welds, 300 tons of specialist steel and 400 major plant items. The project is scheduled for completion in 2014.

The anti-nuclear movement CORE, Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, have made accusations that there is a “hidden agenda” behind the planning application.

“Though it is planned to remediate the beach works once the Evaporator is delivered, we suspect there is a hidden agenda behind the plans – the import of reactor parts at some later date, ” a CORE spokesman said.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is in the process of auctioning off land adjacent to the Sellafield site. “A ready-built beach access at Sellafield must prove irresistable to any new build applicant for the NDA’s land,” a CORE spokesman said. The anti-nuclear organisation also highlighted that German utility RWE, which nominated two West Cumbrian sites at Braystones and Kirksanton for new build, plans to use a beach-based Marine Off-Loading Facility for the import of large reactor components to the sites.

But Sellafield Ltd has hit back against these claims. On 9 September a Sellafield Ltd spokesman told the Whitehaven News:

“No applications to build new reactors are being made by us and nor will we have any involvement in bids by third parties.

“Should any organisations decide in the future that they want to use the beach as we have done they will have to make their own applications to Copeland Borough Council.

“Copeland Council recently gave planning permission for beach works associated with Evaporator D only. As part of the planning process we undertook to have the temporary alterations completed, the components delivered and the beach remediation work done within a time period of three years.This is not optional, it is a condition of the planning consent and is a condition to which we will adhere.”

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