Local windfarm is threatened by RWE's new nuclear plans

Turbines are within RWE's Kirksanton proposal
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The Independent Online

RWE's plan for a new nuclear power station at Kirksanton, near Sellafield, would mean the destruction of a community-owned wind farm already producing electricity on the site.

The three companies running the Haverigg wind project on the Cumbrian coast only found out that their land was part of the German utility's plan when the full list of nominated sites was published by the Government earlier this month.

Colin Palmer, the founder of Windcluster, one of the companies with turbines at the site, said: "RWE is planning to knock down our windmills to build a nuclear power station but they didn't even have the decency to contact us."

Haverigg produces around 17 gigawatt hours of electricity every year, enough to power 3,700 households. "We could get nearly 10 times the capacity if we used the whole site, but we wanted something that was in scale with the local landscape," Mr Palmer said.

Although two of the turbines are not within the perimeter of RWE's nomination, the whole cluster would be put out of action.

Annette Heslop, a director of Energy4All – which oversees Haverigg on behalf of Triodos and Baywind, the other two companies with turbines in the cluster – said: "It is strange to have chosen this site when it is already used for renewable energy. It is a fantastic site, which is well accepted by the local community, so it is odd RWE thinks it can plonk a nuclear power station there."

The Haverigg wind farm has another 15 years on its lease from the local farmer, but were the Government to give the go-ahead for the RWE plant, the arrangement could potentially be forcibly terminated. Windcluster is taking legal advice on the issue this week.

RWE is keen to stress that the whole process is at a very early stage and nothing will go ahead without extensive consultation. It also says that a letter was sent out to the three companies involved, but was lost en route.

The utility has now been in touch with Energy4All and a preliminary meeting will take place on Wednesday to discuss the options for the Haverigg site. A spokesman for RWE said: "It is true that part of our nominated site overlaps with part of the wind farm, and it is possible we may have to move, take down or relocate some of them, but that would have to be done in negotiation and co-operation with both the landowner and the operators."

The utility also denies that it is trampling over the environmental agenda. "The symbolism is irresistible for those who want to paint a debate between nuclear and wind, but RWE has dozens of windfarms itself and is spending £1bn a year on them," the spokesman said. "We are as pro-wind as it is possible to be, but in weighing up the potential for up to 3,600 megawatts of carbon-free electricity from nuclear power, we haven't let a single-digit output wind farm put us off considering this area."

The Government published the list of 11 possible sites for new nuclear power stations earlier this month. The public has until 14 May to comment on the proposals.