Posted: 26/06/2011 13:02:46 by Nigel Nixon

Next generation of reactors will be built at Sellafield and Heysham, the Government announced today as it pushes ahead with plans for new nuclear power plants.

In the first major announcement on the future of nuclear in the UK since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the Government outlined the locations deemed suitable for new power stations by 2025, all of which are adjacent to existing nuclear sites.

The eight sites are: Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Anglesey.

The plans for new nuclear power plants are part of a series of national policy statements on energy which were published today, following a public consultation.

They will be debated and voted on in Parliament, but ministers are hopeful that, with a pro-nuclear majority in the Commons, they will win the argument.

Nuclear power is one of the issues that divided Conservatives and Liberal Democrats when they entered Government together, with the coalition deal allowing a Lib Dem spokesman to speak out against any new nuclear plants, while Lib Dem MPs could abstain on the issue.

Lib Dem Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has since given his backing to new reactors, insisting they would not be subsidised by the taxpayer - although MPs have warned that reform of the electricity market could favour nuclear power and amount to a hidden subsidy.

The Government is planning the new suite of reactors to maintain electricity supplies and cut greenhouse gas emissions as an old generation of power stations is shut down.

The future of nuclear as a power source for countries around the world was called into question earlier this year after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami rocked the reactors at Fukushima, leaving radioactivity leaking from the plant.

Mr Huhne signalled last month that plans for new reactors in the UK were on track after an initial report on Fukushima from nuclear chief inspector Mike Weightman ruled out the need to curtail the operation of nuclear power stations in the UK in light of the situation in Japan.

The energy policy statements aim to provide a framework for making planning decisions so projects do not face "unnecessary hold-ups".

They set out the need for billions of pounds of investment in new energy sources, including 33 gigawatts of renewable power - the equivalent of thousands of offshore wind turbines - to meet the UK's future needs.

Energy minister Charles Hendry said: "Around a quarter of the UK's generating capacity is due to close by the end of this decade. We need to replace this with secure, low carbon, affordable energy.

"This will require over £100 billion worth of investment in electricity generation alone.

"This means twice as much investment in energy infrastructure in this decade as was achieved in the last decade.

"Industry needs as much certainty as possible to make such big investments.

"These plans set out our energy need to help guide the planning process, so that if acceptable proposals come forward in appropriate places, they will not face unnecessary hold-ups."

He said the coalition Government was determined to make the UK attractive to investors to ensure that the country had secure, affordable, low-carbon energy.

Tagged with: Lake, Nuclear, Sellafield, district


Posted: 15/04/2011 16:25:53 by Anne-Marie O'Neill

TWO thirds of the red kites released in Grizedale Forest last summer have survived the harsh winter.

Wildlife rangers believe that around 20 of the 30 birds released in the Forestry Commission’s three-year re-introduction programme made it through the winter and are still in Cumbria, or nearby counties. Between five and eight of the birds are believed to be living around Grizedale and the Rusland Valley, with another three to five inhabiting the Kirkby Moor area near Ulverston.

Four more Grizedale red kites have been spotted by RSPB experts at feeding stations in Dumfries and Galloway – the furthest known movement is by the bird tagged as number four, which has flown 120km north west into Scotland.

“The birds are doing pretty much exactly as we expected, which is very encouraging,” said Iain Yoxall, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger. “We are more confident that these birds will make it to adults now they have made it through a harsh winter. Sadly we lost a few birds but that is natural and why we have to release the numbers that we did.”

The 30 red kites released from a secret location in Grizedale Forest in August last year had coloured tags on each wing. An orange tag on their left wing shows they are from Grizedale, and blue tags on their right wings indicate that they were released in 2010. Some birds were also fitted with radio transmitters to help with monitoring.

Mr Yoxall, who has been following the birds’ movements around Cumbria, said the help he has received from the public had been invaluable. “I have been radio tracking the birds but sightings from members of the public have been a fantastic help and greatly appreciated. This has been very important because it helps us find the birds and backs up our radio tracking results to give us a more robust picture of their movements. We hope that the public will continue letting us know when and where they make sightings of the red kites.”

This year’s birds will hatch in May and are likely to be released into Grizedale Forest in August. The red kites being introduced into Grizedale are the product of a reintroduction programme that took place in Northamptonshire in the 1980s.

Red kites were almost eradicated from the UK following changes in farming practices and human persecution between the 16th and 19th centuries. But they managed to cling on in Wales, and their numbers recovered slowly thanks to the actions of local conservationists



Posted: 07/04/2011 16:09:02 by Anne-Marie O'Neill

A PAIR of ospreys have returned to their nesting site in the Lake District. The birds are back at Bassenthwaite Lake - 10 years after the first male osprey chose the area for a nesting site.The bird, known as No Ring, was the first to nest in the Lakes for 150 years. Experts say he has returned with the female he paired up with for the first time in 2007.

It is hoped the birds will rear an 11th generation of young after two male chicks were produced last year.

Graeme Prest of the Lake District Osprey Project said: "It is wonderful news that the ospreys have returned for another season and have already mated. With a bit of luck, the female will be laying her eggs soon.”

Almost 100 people are part of a volunteer project to provide 24-hour observation on the nest. They also engage with the public about ospreys at the Dodd Wood viewpoint and Whinlatter Visitor Centre.

The public Osprey Viewpoint at Dodd Wood, near Keswick, has been opened and telescopes are being provided to see the birds.

Live images from the nest are also being beamed to a big screen at the nearby Whinlatter visitor centre. The osprey project is managed by a partnership of the Forestry Commission, Lake District National Park Authority and the RSPB.



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