Essex preservation group in 'David and Goliath' battle against nuclear power station plans

  • Watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer

A preservation group in Bradwell-on Sea, Essex says it's facing a "David and Goliath" battle against plans for the new nuclear power station, Bradwell B.

They want to preserve the World War Two airbase which lies right in the middle of where the new power station will be built.

Bradwell Power Generation Company says it's doing all it can to mitigate the loss of the site, but campaigners say its heritage is far more important. 

For example, 130 airmen killed in World War II were based in Bradwell Bay, an airbase in the village.

RAF Bradwell Bay Preservation Group wants to keep their stories alive by turning the airfield into a heritage and education centre.

However, it stands right in the middle of the proposed site for Bradwell B.

RAF Bradwell Bay Preservation Group aims to keep the stories of World War Two airmen alive. Credit: ITV News

Bradwell Bay Preservation Group member Eric Simonelli told ITV Anglia, "There's a fair bit of runway still left. We think rather than destroying that, it needs to be preserved.

"Hopefully, we can get an education centre here also to respect all the airmen that did die in various ways. I think they deserve to be remembered, they gave their lives for us to be free."

The site was home to between 2,000 and 3,000 air personnel during the Second World War. It mostly used for night-time bombing raids on France and Holland.

Many buildings remain, including the control tower.

But under the plans for Bradwell B, the tower will be demolished, as will many other of the airfield's buildings.

Bradwell A stopped operating in 2002.

The Bradwell Power Generation Company says Bradwell B would generate enough low carbon electricity to power four million homes and create thousands of jobs in the process.

However, objections to the plans are strong.

Bradwell A Credit: ITV News

"This is a real 'David and Goliath' situation but as Bradwell in the 1940s stood up to the task we aren't going to lie down," Alison Coombes from Bradwell Bay Preservation Group said.

"We are going to take on the challenge, we will do our absolute utmost to preserve this airfield."

Despite opposition, Bradwell Power Generation Company says there's no option but to build where they've proposed.

Stephen Bray from Bradwell Power Generation Company said: "We've got to remember that it's an infrastructure project with lots of heritage in this country.

"Lots of infrastructure projects that I've worked on involved this choice to make, so while we're approaching it with care and sensitivity as much as we can, we want to be clear about these proposals.

"The remains of the runway and the control tower in particular, unfortunately because of the way the power station has to be sited, will have to be removed." 

More consultation on the project will follow and the final decision rests with the Secretary of State for Business, Alok Sharma.

As mitigation, the Bradwell Bay Preservation Group have been told the war memorial can remain, but they believe the sacrifice made on this airbase deserves much more.