IT’S the hulk on the horizon that dominates views from Mersea.

The decommissioned nuclear power station at Bradwell stands across the Blackwater estuary from the island, and could be in line for a fresh lease of life.

Working with owners EDF Energy, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has nominated the site as a possible location for one of a new generation of nuclear plants.

But opinion is divided as to whether nuclear is the right choice to meet the country’s need for environmentally-friendly power, and if Bradwell would be the right place.

Professor Andy Blowers, chairman of Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group, claims a new plant at Bradwell would be “taking a step in the dark, while closing our eyes to perils we know about”.

The group is focused on Mersea, and Prof Blowers said the island would be “taking all the risk, but getting none of the benefit”.

“West Mersea is a growing town with 8,000 people within two miles of the power station,” he said.

“If something goes wrong, we are right on the frontline.

“As sea levels rise, Bradwell is going to be under water within 100 years, and if a new station is built, there will be nuclear material on site when that happens.

“I think it will be difficult to approve Bradwell given the strength of arguments against, but the Government and its industry allies are determined to force this through.”

Safety is the biggest concern for Prof Blowers, who sat on a Government committee investigating nuclear waste management.

“Nothing can ever be 100 per cent safe,” he said.

“A new reactor would have highly radioactive waste stored on site, and if there was an accident, terrorist attack or flooding, we would have a serious catastrophe.

“There is no acceptable way to deal with waste safely, and the industry has to confess it doesn’t know what to do about a problem that will only get bigger and bigger.”

Prof Blowers pointed to the recent £250,000 fine imposed on former operator Magnox Electric after radioactive waste leaked from Bradwell over 14 years.

“This is par for the course for an industry that does all it can to keep accidents quiet,” he said.

The professor favours renewable energy, such as the wind farm being built off Gunfleet Sands, Clacton, as the best way to meet future energy needs.

West Mersea mayor Alan Mogridge said that opinion on the island was “divided three ways”, with firm supporters and opponents of a new plant. The third group is more opposed to a new build at Bradwell than to nuclear power – people who think we’ve had it on our doorstep and it’s someone else’s turn, he explained.

Blackwater estuary provides more than just a physical divide between Mersea and Bradwell, with attitudes towards new nuclear development more positive across the water.

“People around Bradwell are in favour because they work there and it supports local businesses,” said Mr Mogridge. “But because of the geography, Mersea is both so close, but so far away as to not get those benefits.”

Maldon district councillor Richard Dewick lives on the outskirts of Bradwell and said he would rather not see a new station, but could appreciate the benefits.

“The vast majority of villagers are in favour because of the work it will bring, or simply do not mind because they’re used to it,” he explained.

“The power station has been a very good neighbour and put a lot of money in to the community.”

Mr Dewick criticised the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group for trying to “frighten people in to objecting”.

“Even the worst of climate change doom-mongers are not predicting sea levels will rise by the amount they are saying,” he said.

“The current station is built 12metres above sea level, and I’m sure any new build would have its own sea defences.”