§ Lord Melchett
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are aware of the strong opposition from nature conservation and local interests to the Central Electricity Generating Board's proposal to consider Winfrith Heath in Dorset as a possible site for a new nuclear power station, and whether they will state:—
- (i) How much of Winfrith Heath is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI);
- (ii) The scientific grounds on which the site was notified as an SSSI;
- (iii) Whether the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Preserve would be affected by the construction of a power station on Winfrith Heath, and whether this site is being considered by the Government as a possible statutory Marine Nature Reserve under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981;
- (iv) Whether the Bowleaze Cove to Peveril Point SSSI could also be affected by a power station sited on Winfrith Heath, and on what grounds this SSSI was notified; and
- (v) What proportion of Dorset heathland has been lost to industrial and other development, agricultural improvement and forestry operations, during this century and whether their scientific advisers consider it desirable that a further area of this rare and threatened habitat should be destroyed by the construction of a new power station.
§ The Earl of Avon
The Government are aware of the views expressed on use of Winfrith Heath as a possible site for a new nuclear power station. No proposals have been put before the Government, but if and when they are they will be given careful consideration. The further information requested is as follows:
- (i) The Winfrith Heath and Galton Bog SSSI extends to 188.5 ha. (465.6 acres). Some 30 ha. of heath-land are currently outside the SSSI boundary.
- (ii) The site was scheduled as an extensive area of heathland and bog with a number of local and rare plants and animals. In the opinion of the NCC, it is one of the best fragments of heathland in Dorset, west of Wareham.
- (iii) If a power station was sited at Winfrith and was equipped with cooling towers, its impact on the marine environment and the voluntary Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve would be minimised. The impact would vary according to the outfall chosen. The Purbeck Marine Reserve is not currently being considered for designation as a Marine Nature Reserve under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
- (iv) Any effect upon the Bowleaze Cove to Peveril Point SSSI would depend upon the exact routing of the pipe-lines. The Bowleaze Cove to Peveril Point SSSI was scheduled in 1952 for its geological and botanical interest.
- (v) Losses to all other users have reduced the extent of heathland in Dorset from 23,000 ha. (56,000 acres) in 1896 to 5832 ha. (14,405 acres) in 1978. The NCC is opposed to the destruction of further areas of Dorset heathland.
House adjourned at eighteen minutes past eight o'clock.