Here’s a very big example of what Dominic Woodfield wrote about in his excellent guest blog this morning.
There’s a nuclear power station, Hinckley C, being built on the Severn Estuary and part of the conditions for it being built were to do with protecting fish which use the estuary and which might be sucked into the power station with water needed to cool the plant.
People with long memories will remember that fish always come up on the Severn Estuary whether it is about building a barrage or other forms of tidal power. That’s because two species of lamprey and the obscure but lovely Twaite Shad are what make the Severn estuary a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive (the site is also a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive). The Eel, a globally threatened spcies also uses the Severn Estuary as do Atlantic Salmon and the Allis Shad.
The permission for the power station, the Secretary of State’s Development Consent Order (DCO) required three measures to be in place: a Low Velocity Side Entry intake (LVSE), a Fish Recovery & Return (FRR) system and an Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) system.
Now an application has been made to ditch the AFD – see here. The application on whether to ditch the AFD or not is the decision of Alok Sharma, the SoS for for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (fish conservation is not a primary role in the job, and Mr Sharma is not known to be a great fish-fan).
It’s not clear to me why the AFD is to be ditched by the power station – it couldn’t be that it is expensive could it? Or that they don’t like fish? I asked EFD, for it will be their power station, why they wanted the AFD to be ditched and how much the system would cost and they didn’t answer the second question but they sent me a link to their thoughts on the matter – click here. It seems, to me, to boil down to saying ‘Yes, we signed up to this but we don’t think this matters much. Not many fish really.’.
I found that WWT had responded to the consulttion on this matter – click here. That response confirmed several of my concerns but went much further. WWT seem to think that the analysis was based on poor data from Hinckley B (insufficient sampling and only in daylight (when many of the relevant fish are active at night)) and also unrealistically optimistic assumptions of the analysis. WWT suggest that the package of three measures was not regarded as certain to work and ought to be tested and if EDF want rid of one of the measures then everything should be up for grabs again as far as suitable mitigation is concerned. WWT seem to have done a good job to me – I might send them a fiver.
But although I would need to read all this stuff quite a few times fully to understand it, I guess I have already read it more often than Alok Sharma will. When the PM is bad-mouthing newts, what price shads and lampreys?
First they came for the newts, except they had come for the Hen Harriers before the newts, and they’d come for the trees too, and then they came for the salmon, eels, shads and lampreys?