State-owned China General Nuclear (CGN), the developer behind the proposed Bradwell B new nuclear plant, are appealing against the local district council’s refusal to grant planning permission for investigatory groundworks. Maldon District Council voted to reject the application which would destroy the remains of RAF Bradwell Bay, a popular heritage site amongst WWII airfield enthusiasts. The council’s refusal can be seen as a clear response to the shock and outrage by locals and the wider community over the scale of devastation and disruption the development would bring to this special area of Essex. 

The investigation works are necessary for CGN to advance their plans to turn this sleepy rural backwater into an industrial landscape that will destroy the remains of the airfield, including the control tower, officers’ mess, blister hangers and remaining runway. The plans also include the removal of the parish owned war memorial erected in memory of the 121 plus airmen who lost their lives while stationed at Bradwell Bay. Paul Webb, Chairman of the RAF Bradwell Bay Preservation Group, says of the plans, “We represent the memory of the men that took off from Bradwell Bay to fight for our freedom and never returned. We oppose the desecration of the aerodrome remains and take offence to its destruction, and we will fight for the memory of those lost airmen.”

The planning inspectorate is scheduled to visit the site this Wednesday 16th at 10.00 am as part of the appeal process. Under normal circumstances, the villagers would be out in force to show the amount of local opposition to these plans. But with Covid restrictions in place, and the welfare of our community being paramount, instead BAN is staging a unique demonstration of remembrance art at the war memorial, which the Planning Inspector will pass to access the site. The art installation will be in situ from late afternoon Tuesday 15th December until Thursday 17th.

It’s not just our heritage under threat by this development but protected species as the site lies within and adjunct to several important designated habitats including SSSIs and a Ramsar. The planning application in question includes a massive 200m x 100m excavation 10m deep right in the middle of important winter foraging grounds for protected birds as well as bore hole testing entailing noise and vibration. The RSBP, which describes the estuary area as “a Premier League site for birds” has grave concerns over the planning application as well as the overall development, while Essex Wildlife Trust has stated its outright objection to the application.

This rural area is not only a haven for wildlife but has seen a record number of visitors enjoying the fresh air, remote beaches and isolation of the Saltmarsh Coastal Trail during the current Covid crisis. St Peter’s on the Wall, thought to be the oldest chapel in England and a site of pilgrimage abuts the proposed site, while the pretty village of Bradwell On Sea, which holds conservation status, lies less than 1km from where the proposed twin reactors will sit.

Meanwhile the UK government, who remain silent on the matter, have yet to publish the long-awaited Energy White Paper outlining plans for new nuclear capacity, or state whether or not a security risk such as CGN will be allowed to build such a high-risk infrastructure project. The destruction of this precious heritage and habitat site could all be for nothing if CGN are sent packing and the plans abandoned, which seems increasingly likely given the security threat posed by China.

Bradwell B Action Network (BAN) is a grassroots campaign group set up by local residents in response to CGN’s proposals for Bradwell B. Most of our core management team live in the village itself while our very active Facebook community draws membership from across the district and wider county areas which will be impacted by the development. Our mission is to protect our communities, our heritage and our unique ecology from the threat that the Bradwell B development poses.

We will follow up after this event with a Press Release to include pictures and video of the installation to enable socially distanced reporting should you not be able to attend in person.