In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, asked the UK Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr Mike Weightman, to provide a report to the Government on the implications of this incident and the lessons to be learned for the UK nuclear industry. The final report was published on 11th October.
Dr Weightman’s report raises serious questions about the effectiveness of existing planning processes in place for controlling developments close to nuclear power stations. This is of particular importance in the case of Lydd airport, where expansion is being promoted adjacent to a nuclear power station.
The report says “In light of the events at Fukushima, we consider that it is timely for the relevant Government departments in the UK to examine the existing system of planning controls for developments in the vicinity of nuclear sites and consider the need for improvements. Recommendation FR‐5: The relevant Government departments in England, Wales and Scotland should examine the adequacy of the existing system of planning controls for commercial and residential developments off the nuclear licensed site.”
AEF agrees that planning controls for airports should take full account of the special risks arising from nuclear powers stations. But a difficult question for the authorities and the politicians to answer is whether the risks to lives and health from an aircraft and nuclear power station ‘interaction’ should be taken more seriously than the risks to lives and health of noise and air pollution from aircraft.