hinkley point

Weatherwatch: the nuclear option and rising levels of anxiety

Danger of coastal flooding might make sensible people think twice about building houses in vulnerable places, let alone nuclear power stations

— Back in 2012 a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the Environment Agency was warning that 12 out of the UK’s 19 nuclear sites were in danger of coastal flooding and erosion because of climate change. Among them was Hinkley Point in Somerset, one of the eight proposed sites for new nuclear power stations around the coasts.

That was before the increasing volume of melting of the Greenland ice cap was properly understood and when most experts thought there was no net melting in the Antarctic.

hinkley point
Hinkley Point, Somerset, coastal site of one the the UK government’s planned new nuclear power stations. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Satellite measurements released earlier this month and other recent observations of how warmer seas are eroding ice shelves and glaciers have removed uncertainty.

Estimates of sea level rise in the next 50 years have gone up from less than 30cm to more than a metre, well within the lifespan of the nuclear stations the UK government has planned.

The extra coastal erosion and threat of storm surges that this increase in sea level will bring to our shores might make sensible people think twice about siting any buildings in vulnerable places, let alone nuclear power stations.

So far, however, the government has yet to respond and is pressing ahead with its plans.


by Paul Brown | The Guardian