Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Bradwell Baffle

The recent contrasting news concerning Hinkley Point C is paradoxical for the possible Bradwell B new build. The local protest groups will have been put into even more uncertainty than ever before, no news is, well, no news! One thing for sure is that there will be even more delay.

From the Government’s perspective let’s look at what Hinkley is supposed to provide before we examine the points in greater detail:

  • 7% of UK electricity
  • Energy security
  • Clean energy (?!)
  • Employment

What they fail to mention which the environmentalists and the media has picked up on are:

  • The astronomical build cost
  • Use of 20th century technology
  • Similar reactors in France and Finland overdue, overspent and still not working
  • Massive cost to the taxpayer
  • Potential delays
  • Long term costs
  • National security

However, the last minute U-turn has some additional implications that need exploration.

Tom Burke, Chairman of E3G and a former government environmental adviser suggests there must be something substantial over and above the known potential issues that has caused this ‘dislocation’. Having pointed out that Theresa May was out of the country when the pause button was hit giving added credence to there being something major involved he also feels that it is high time for a ‘proper, decent forensic examination’ into ‘the assumptions with which this project has been brought forward’. This is backed up by the government’s official statement given by the new business and energy Greg Clark ‘wanted to consider carefully all the component parts of this project’.

Local lobbyist BANNG has led on the notion that Bradwell B, as a pure Chinese new build using their Hualong One reactors, has always been the carrot to entice the deep pocket Chinese investment in both Hinkley and Sizewell. This was highlighted on BBC’s Newsnight program recently along with detail of the McKinsey & Co report for the DECC in 2012 that capturing full electricity efficiency could provide a six fold yield of Hinkley Point C.

The National Grid is moving deeper into a Smart Grid where the response to fluctuating demand has to be swifter than that of a nuclear or coal fired power stations. Currently the biggest component of the UK’s electricity mix is generated using gas, right now at the point of writing this sentence viewing that is a colossal 55.9%.

And here’s the rub. Whilst the latest type of gas generation utilises efficient and responsive Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT) the UK is neither energy secure (around 50% of gas is imported) or less fossil fuel dependent. This is a key reason the current and previous governments see the answer as Nuclear despite the high initial cost and creation of long term waste storage problems.

There are even more prudent nuclear alternatives than the giant and costly proposals such as Hinkley. The government has invested £250 million into research and support of SMRs, Small Modular Reactors, that would be built in a factory and shipped to site. The trouble is, as with so much of nuclear technology, it is still 20th century, unproven and will provide a legacy of waste for our descendants.

So how to proceed? The UK has the most wind in Europe. On shore wind farms are the lowest cost means of providing electricity and along with the substantial offshore wind farms wind power will provide some of the mix. Being an island nation, tidal power must be another element of the energy equation. Solar farms and domestic solar installations both save the load on the grid and feed back units. These would all provide more employment, too, each system with a much lower maintenance requirement.

However, it will be efficiency coupled with far less consumption that will be the biggest factor along with improvement in battery storage that will move us in the direction of a fossil free future.

Article first appeared in the Mersea Island Courier 7th August 2016

Peter Banks - Colchester Green Party - Written August 1st 2016

Monday, 4 July 2016

Hallelujah, new use for abandoned power plant!

Rufus Wainwright joins a 1500 voice choir in a disused power station in Toronto give a moving rendition of Leonard Cohen's anthem 'Hallelujah'. Of course, Rufus knows the song well, one of the soundtrack highlights in Shrek... and the phrase "The Secret Chord" forms the title of Jonathan Evens and my book.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Robert Llewellyn on Hinkley Point C madness...

This very clever chap famous for his role as Kryten in Red Dwarf and as a presenter of Scrapheap Challenge has a YouTube channel devoted to mainly electric cars along with presentations about environmental issues. Whilst he professes to be a Nuclear Power supporter but this excellent and entertaining short film tackles head on the lunacy about Hinkley Point which will be of great interest to local Mersea bods.


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Green Party standing up for Mersea & Pyefleet

Candidates and Mersea residents Lisa and Peter

Mersea Island and villages in the Ward face unique challenges in addition to those of Colchester Borough. The ridiculous decision of the Chancellor to build a new nuclear power station at Bradwell to be designed and operated by the Chinese has energised the population to protest. Furthermore, despite the Tory government’s undermining of renewable energy, sustainable electricity generation in the UK has now reached 24.7% and increasing. Why should we rely on nuclear power for future energy supplies?

Colchester Green Party actively supports campaigns against the dissolution of Fuel Element Debris (FED) at Bradwell and subsequent discharges of radioactive residue into the shallow Blackwater estuary. The authorities have a duty to leave a clean, safe environment for our children, grandchildren and beyond. Local fishermen and conservationists share these concerns.

The local elections this May 5th are unusual due to the ward changes and you will each have 3 votes to choose 3 councillors. The Green Party has 3 candidates standing in our ward:

Vote Green to demonstrate your desire for change; for a clean, green environment and a caring community.

Locally we need:

  • Renewable energy sources and subsidies
  • Revival of the Cycle Highway to Colchester outlined in the Mersea Appraisal
  • Fair-Fare & eco-friendly bus services
  • Appropriate infrastructure suitable to support new and affordable housing
  • Sustainable and ethically managed industries

What we don’t want:
  • A new nuclear power station
  • Lack of transparency re dismantling processes of Bradwell Power Station
  • More nuclear industry waste storage at Bradwell
  • Any radioactive discharges into the Blackwater and atmosphere arising from FED dissolution


Promoted by Robbie Spence on behalf of Lisa Britton, Peter Banks and Bartosz Mizgier
Colchester & District Green Party, all at 124 Morant Road, Colchester CO1 2JD

Friday, 22 April 2016

Only the Greens think this is ****** crazy

Welcome to the world of safe, environmentally secure Shale Gas Extraction... and remember taxpayers will pick up the bill when things go pear shaped.

Vote Green!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Seeing Green...

So I was asked to stand as a candidate for the Green Party in the Colchester Borough Council election coming up on 5th May 2016... I said 'Yes'... here's a summary of 'Why Me?' thoughts:

Yes, I was born and bred an Islander, albeit on the Isle of Wight, and first visited Mersea in the 60s before moving here permanently in 2002. I feel a deep sense of belonging to the Borough, this island and am passionate about the need for greener, renewable energy, sustainable businesses and lifestyles.

In the ward of Mersea and Pyefleet we live directly in the lee of Bradwell Power Station. Currently the station is being decommissioned and dismantled with completion dates repeatedly shifting from 2015 through to 2019 and possibly even further. The issues in the process have meant that the highly radioactive reactor cores have had to be encased in-situ which means that they, along with the Intermediate-Level Waste (ILW) store, it will be on our doorstep for the next century or so. Another part of this process is dissolution of fuel element debris (FED) which results in a discharge of radioactive residue, after treatment with nitric acid, directly into the Blackwater and Tritium into the atmosphere. As the river and estuary are relatively shallow it means this radioactive effluent will travel back and forth in the Blackwater for many tides before dispersion, promoting continued local community objections. Additionally the trapping of eddies of effluent in the mud creeks and saltings strengthens and concentrates this waste for longer still.

It is now being proposed that ILW from other sites should be transferred to Bradwell, which will make the site a regional waste store OR would not only increase the amount of waste on the site but, more importantly, the amount of radioactivity.

Entrust the role of councillor to me and I will work with local agencies and protest groups to prevent this. Groups such as:

Since entering parliament in 2010 Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has been extraordinarily diligent in her efforts to ensure public views are represented. I would do the same for Mersea. You will already know me through my involvement in HM Coastguard (to 2015), the Parish Church and other voluntary groups and activities. As one who contributes towards the creative arts I am well qualified to encourage culture and aspiration for all to enjoy the fruits of our labours.

Let’s join together and make the world a better and more joyful place for us and the generations to come can enjoy.

Promoted by Robbie Spence on behalf of Lisa Britton, Peter Banks and Bartosz Mizgier
Colchester & District Green Party, all at 124 Morant Road, Colchester CO1 2JD