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[cdn-nucl-l] Mystery over farm sale by British Energy
Posted on the East Anglican Daily Times on March 5, 2002 and at:
Mystery over farm sale by nuclear firm
BY DAVID GREEN
March 5, 2002 05:18
MYSTERY surrounds a decision by British Energy to sell a farm it bought
more than a decade ago in connection with its plans to build a Sizewell
C nuclear power station.
The 164-acre arable farm, in a wildlife and landscape-rich area of the
Suffolk coast, has been purchased by conservation agencies and is to be
reverted to heathland in a £500,000 project, it was disclosed yesterday.
Mount Pleasant Farm, Dunwich, was bought by British Energy in 1990 as a
dumping ground for more than a million tonnes of peat due to be
extracted from the Sizewell C site prior to the start of construction.
Plans for the power station have not gone ahead as expected as a result
of the unfavourable economics surrounding the building of new nuclear
British Energy maintained in a statement yesterday that the sale of
Mount Pleasant Farm did not affect its desire to build new stations to
replace those, including Sizewell A and Bradwell, which are due to close
within the next few years.
However, the statement failed to explain the reason behind the sale of
the farm in the light of the historic need to find a disposal site for
the deep pocket of peat on the C station site.
British Energy's predecessor, Nuclear Electric, had wanted to dump the
peat at sea but this proposal was vetoed by the then Ministry of
The nuclear firm then came up with plans to dump the peat at Mount
Pleasant Farm and use it to recreate heathland, with several trial plots
being established in the early 1990s.
The new owners of the farm are the RSPB and the National Trust, both of
which already own large areas of land in the area, including the
Minsmere nature reserve and Dunwich Heath.
It is also close to the Westleton Heath National Nature Reserve ,
managed by English Nature.
The purchase of the farmland has been made possible by a £161,500 grant
from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Chris Durdin, RSPB spokesman, said: "It presented a rare opportunity to
link areas of heathland, both existing and restored, into a larger and
more valuable ecological unit."
In the short term the arable land – let to a tenant for the past 10
years - was likely to be farmed in a way which would reduce soil
fertility prior to its restoration as heathland.
"In time the RSPB hopes it will attract rare and endangered birds like
the stone curlew and woodlark, insects such as the silver-studded blue
butterfly and ant-lion and reptiles and amphibians such as the adder and
natterjack toad," said Mr Durdin.
The joint purchase has been supported by English Nature, Suffolk Coastal
District Council, the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Unit, Suffolk Wildlife
Trust and Westleton Parish Council.
A statement issued by British Energy said: "This decision to sell Mount
Pleasant farm does not affect our future plans or our strategy of
advocating the nuclear replacement programme to Government.
"We are delighted to sell this land to the National Trust and RSPB and
support their aim of heathland creation and strengthening the area's