Campaigners lose challenge to stop Hinkley Point mud being dumped in Severn Estuary
Campaigners have lost a legal challenge to stop mud from the site of a decommissioned nuclear power station alongside Hinkley Point C being dumped in the Severn Estuary.
The Save the Severn Estuary / Cofiwch Môr Hafren campaign, which involves the Geiger Bay coalition and groups from the English side of the estuary, had sought to halt the dumping of sediment from the construction of the Hinkley C power station in the Marine Protected Area (MPA) near Portishead, Bristol.
In 2018, EDF, the company building the plant, dumped mud and sediment off the coast of Cardiff despite fierce objections.
When the work then switched from Cardiff to Portishead, activists argued the company should not have been able to vary an existing licence it had for work at sea.
Securing a judicial review, the group argued that the change to the marine licence was amended unlawfully and without proper scrutiny.
The judicial review was heard early in March and this week a High Court judge dismissed their case on all grounds.
At the two-day hearing, judge Mr Justice Holgate concluded that there was “there was nothing unlawful in the MMO’s decision” and said he considered the claimant’s approach “to involve an impermissible gloss” on the relevant legislation.
The Save the Severn Estuary / Cofiwch Môr Hafren says that millions of tonnes of contaminated mud and sediment will contaminate the waters and beaches used by local communities, and that by choosing to ignore legal safeguards, energy giant EDF is threatening the health of families and animal life.
Those claims have been dismissed by the company, Welsh and English environmental authorities and the Welsh government, arguing that tests showed the sediment was similar to that found elsewhere in the Bristol Channel.
EDF, which was granted permission for the latest mud dumping by England’s Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in August, hailed the decision “good news” for thousands of workers at the site.
Prior to the review, Save the Severn Estuary / Cofiwch Môr Hafren spokesperson, Cian Ciarán, said: “An energy giant is taking the health, wellbeing, and good nature of the people of Bristol and other Severn communities for granted in proceeding with dumping waste materials in sight of Portishead.
“EDF are pursuing this in the knowledge that the 2018 dump near Cardiff was unlawful, so instead avoid further scrutiny by running to the English side of the Estuary to try and get away with it again.
“They are not doing this to safeguard energy production or an act to combat climate change, this build and the dumping in the estuary as a result is economically and morally unjustifiable in so many ways, and once more is avoidable.
“There are alternatives, this is a choice made for convenience and profit, not out of necessity or consideration for the environment or future generations.”
An EDF spokesman told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The decision is good news for people who care about the environment and climate change.”
“It will enable thousands of workers to get ahead building a project that will protect the environment from climate change and provide Britain with reliable low carbon electricity for decades to come.”
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