After the Government dismissed their appeal to remove it, experts have warned that EDF must now install the Acoustic Fish Deterrent at Hinkley Point C, and that no other option should be considered.

Dr David Lambert and Dr Andy Turnpenny have cautioned that pursuing the little known IROPI (Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest) to circumvent the Government’s wishes will leave the new Hinkley Point C plant killing millions of fish a year.

The AFD forms part of the Development Consent Order (DCO) for the site and is designed to protect fish from being sucked into and killed in the nuclear plant cooling water system. The Government’s letter states that the decision on the appeal is final and can only be challenged in the courts through judicial review. 

The news had initially been greeted with delight by environmental organisations including the Angling Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, Bristol Channel Federation of Sea Anglers, Severn Rivers Trust, Somerset Wildlife Trust, and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) as the area around Hinkley Point C is home to the protected Atlantic salmon, sea trout and twaite shad as well as fragile and young fish that use the Severn Estuary as a nursery. However concerns have been raised as to whether alternative arrangements will now be made.

During the inquiry, the inspector stated “The evidence provided {suggests} the latest sound devices have much longer maintenance periods, limiting exposure of divers or ROVs, and that ROV development has progressed such that they can operate in the velocities and the low visibilities likely to be experienced… Such arguments do bring into question the conclusion of {EDF} that an AFD cannot be utilised because of the unacceptable levels of risk.” 

In addition the inspector described the testimony of EDF as one that has “chosen not to conduct proper research to support their application. They have then criticised the Agency’s best efforts to work with the paltry offerings, relying on the lack of detail and uncertainty that creates to try and support their own position.“

Over the last 10 years, Fish Guidance Systems Ltd has worked with organisations such as the Environment Agency and NGO’s to inform and educate on AFD’s and in March 2021, they provided written answers to a report written by the Hinkley Point C Stakeholder Reference Group to the Welsh Government.

Dr David Lambert, Environmental Scientist and Managing Director of Fish Guidance Systems said: “The Government refusing the appeal at Hinkley Point C is a great step in the right direction for protecting the marine environment, but the job isn’t done yet. Preserving our unique environment for future generations must become a priority for everyone.”

Dr Andy Turnpenny, Fisheries Scientist, said “The protection of fish species in the Severn Estuary has always been our primary motivator. We developed AFD technology specifically for this purpose, and the plans for Hinkley’s water drawing systems were designed with an AFD in mind. It’s important now to finish the job so that the other aspects of the environmental mitigation such as the Low Velocity Intakes and Fish Return System work as intended.”