WORK on the Bradwell nuclear power station could be severely delayed with aspects of the project paused until “future years”.

The decision comes after the Environment Agency told the Chinese nuclear developer behind the plans that in order to build the new reactor, it must resolve at least six safety issues before moving forward.

A letter to Maldon District Council from Bradwell B Power Generation Company (BRB) – formed from the partnership of China General Nuclear Power and EDF – says in order to tightly control expenditure, it needs to pause aspects of the project.

This includes essential engagement with local authorities and other statutory stakeholders which, it says, will “begin again in future years”.

The letter adds the coronavirus crisis has delayed the work and to ensure the project moves forward efficiently, it will be prioritising technical aspects, such as site feasibility.

The letter reads: “The Bradwell B project made strong progress in 2020 with the completion of our first stage of public consultation, completion of EIA Scoping and we benefited from strong engagement with your team at Maldon District Council.

“Of course, the year also brought some key challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic meant we could not access the site as readily as we would have liked and it also restricted the ability of some of our engineers to travel between the UK and China.

“As a result, our activities are at risk of falling out of sequence and we have ground to make up in some critical areas.

“In order to ensure we take the project forward efficiently in 2021 and beyond we will be prioritising technical aspects of our work, such as site feasibility, and re-sequencing in other areas.

“Faced with the need to tightly control our expenditure, we also need to ensure those aspects of the project we are not ready to progress are paused.

“This will begin again in future years.”

Wendy Stamp, leader of Maldon District Council, said: “We are under no illusion in thinking the application for a new nuclear site is going to go away and we will continue to keep an active eye on BRB’s plans and will re-engage with them when they are ready to do so.”

Campaign group Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group said that “clearly this is a substantial development and we will be exploring the implications post-haste”.