FEARS have been raised Colchester’s world-famous oyster beds could be decimated if a new nuclear power station is built at Bradwell.

Last month, the Government earmarked Bradwell as one of 11 potential sites for a new nuclear power station.

To cool the new generation of stations, 72,000 cubic litres of water would be pumped in and out of the Blackwater Estuary every second – more than twice the volume needed at the old Bradwell power station.

And campaigners believe the warm water pumped back could wipe out some sections of Colchester’s native oysters, beloved since Roman times.

Alan Bird, a Mersea oyster fisherman for 45 years, said the shore and seabeds along the Bradwell coast became barren in the late Sixties, more than a decade after the original nuclear station opened.

But within a few months of the nuclear facility being decommissioned in 2002, the coastline began to regenerate.

“I have major concerns about a new power station that will pump much more volume than the old one,” Mr Bird said.

“I would say a year after it closed, we could see the beginnings of new life, and now we have a nice population along that shore.

“The suction pipe is going to suck in so much oyster larvae, I have grave doubts for the fishery.”

Prof Graham Underwood, professor of ecology at Essex University, said native oysters, such as the famous Colchester variety, would be particularly affected by changes in the estuary’s environment.

He said research was inconclusive, but the onus was on those bidding to open another nuclear plant to prove their case.

“It’s up to the developers to show there will be no impact, not for the people who live around there to prove against them.

“The people of both sides of Mersea have invested many, many years of building these fisheries up and establishing them.

“In the absence of good studies it’s just not known what the impact would be.”

The Government’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science is set to commission research on the effects new water intake pipes would have on oyster stock.

Concerns about the future of oysters was one issue raised at a meeting of Colchester Council’s strategic overview and scrutiny panel.

A group tasked with looking into the potential effects of a new station at Bradwell on the borough found the economic benefits of more jobs would be minimal.

Other worries raised included the potential effects of climate change, how residents on an island would be evacuated if there was a disaster, and research suggesting young children living near power stations may be more susceptible to leukaemia.

To have your say, visit nuclearpowersiting.decc.gov.uk before May 14.