The latest consultation on the development of Hinkley Point C, the nuclear power station project in Somerset, has notably excluded several Welsh Councils from its list of consultees. This comes despite Cardiff’s proximity to the site, which is less than 20 miles away. EDF, the French owned company behind Hinkley Point C, and the UK Government have a;sp not extended consultation other South Wales local authorities such as Bridgend, Newport, Port Talbot, Swansea and the Vale of Glamorgan. These areas, situated along the Severn Estuary, are directly impacted by the station’s operations and environmental implications.

One critical issue at hand is EDF’s intention to amend its Development Consent Order (DCO) to exclude the requirement for an Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) system. This system is vital for protecting marine life in the Severn Estuary from the substantial risks posed by the nuclear facility’s cooling water intake process. 

The AFD’s importance was underscored by a detailed governmental public enquiry, which reaffirmed the need to include it as a crucial environmental protection measure. Despite previous agreements and the clear ecological necessity, EDF remains committed to removing this requirement, claiming alternative mitigation strategies. 

However, these alternatives have not convinced campaign groups or the Welsh Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLAs), who view the AFD as indispensable for safeguarding marine life and, by extension, the estuary’s recreational and commercial fishing activities.

Remarkably, while the consultation list includes the Welsh and Scottish Governments and even the Crown, it omits local authorities representing South Wales communities directly affected by Hinkley Point C. 

This exclusion has sparked confusion and frustration among Welsh NFLAs and local government officials, emphasising a disconnect between the consultation process and the interests of impacted communities.

The Planning Inspectorate has yet to publish the consultation, but the Welsh NFLAs are preparing to mobilise public response to advocate for the AFD’s retention. This stance underscores the broader concern over the consultation’s inclusiveness and the potential environmental impact of sidelining critical ecological protections.

The exclusion of Welsh Councils from the Hinkley Point C consultation raises significant concerns about the inclusivity and environmental stewardship of the project’s development process. This briefing highlights the urgent need for a more inclusive approach that considers the voices and concerns of all affected communities, particularly those in close proximity to the project site.