ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have accused EDF of 'deliberately avoiding' taking measures to prevent the killing of millions of fish at Hinkley Point C.

The accusations come after EDF revealed plans to install an 800-acre wetland reserve near Bridgwater at Pawlett Hams as an alternative to an acoustic fish deterrent system.

The previously proposed system would have used 280 speakers to make noise 'louder than a jumbo jet' 24-hours a day for 60 years in order to stop fish from swimming into the plant's cooling water system, and consequently being injured or killed.

According to Fish Guidance Systems, who specialise in manufacturing equipment for such measures, fish under threat include cod and whiting, while migratory species such as Atlantic salmon and shad will have a 90% death rate if trapped in the nuclear processing.

The group of experts say EDF now plans to ask for an IROPI (Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest) to determine it should not have to pay for the system, as it argues it would further delay the completion of Hinkley and hold up the UK’s net zero plans.

The group also said EDF's plans to develop salt marshes and wetlands nearby have not been researched in detail, or agreed with the relevant authorities.

Dr David Lambert, Managing Director of Fish Guidance Systems said: “This in no way compensates for the enormous loss to the environment and ecosystem.

"‘Like for like’ replacement is not achievable or scientifically possible.

"Proposed measures will not replace the lost fish.

"The Welsh government has previously estimated that 185 million fish a year could be killed - this is utterly unconscionable.

“Given the January announcement that Hinkley Point C won’t now be up and running until at least 2031, they have plenty of time to explore options which would prevent unnecessary fish deaths and to look at developments in technology, which will absolutely refute all of their arguments.” 

Fish Guidance Systems also refuted claims by EDF that the acoustic fish deterrent would create a noise 'louder than a jumbo jet' - Dr Lambert said this claim was utterly untrue and that it will not impact any residents along the shore of the River Severn. 

An online public consultation on the plans has been open since Tuesday, January 9, and will close on Thursday, February 29 - feedback can be submitted via the Hinkley Point C website.

Chris Fayers, Head of Environment at Hinkley Point C, denied the accusations and said the power station will be the first in the area to have any fish protection measures, including plans for a recovery and return system.

 “Hinkley Point C is working with Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, the Environment  Agency, and other conservation bodies to develop new natural habitats to compensate for the risk of any impact on protected fish species," Mr Fayers said.

"The proposals include creating large areas of saltmarsh, seagrass and kelp, new oyster beds and the removal of barriers in rivers. This will form part of a public consultation later this year.   

“New natural habitat is a better solution than an acoustic fish deterrent which would use 280 speakers to make noise louder than a jumbo jet 24-hours a day for 60 years.

"The system's impact on porpoises, seals, whales, and other species is unknown. It offers a very small potential benefit to protected fish species and would also risk the safety of divers in the fast-flowing tides of the Bristol Channel.   

“Power stations have been taking cooling water from the Bristol Channel for decades with no significant impact on fish populations. Hinkley Point C will be the first power station in the area to have any fish protection measures in place – including a fish recovery and return system.”