ENVIRONMENTALISTS have reacted angrily to the government's decision to give the go-ahead to a new nuclear power plant just 14 miles away from Barry.

The development will see new reactors being built in the UK for the first time in 18 years, across the Bristol channel in Hinkley Point, Somerset.

The Barry and Vale Friends of the Earth group has long been opposed to the new plant, being built by French energy group EDF with additional investment from Chinese firms.

Keith Stockdale, co-ordinator for the Barry environmental group, said that he was "very disappointed" with the decision, pointing to safety concerns and missed opportunities to provide preferable energy sources.

"We don't want to see a huge nuclear power station near Barry," he said. "We know that we must have clean energy and we know that nuclear energy is a clean energy source, but it also leaves a tremendous residue afterwards. We are leaving that to future generations to worry about."

Keith pointed towards the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011 as reason to be concerned about safety issues.

He explained that should an incident like the flooding caused by the Bristol Channel tsunami of 1607 – which killed thousands while sweeping away entire villages – occur again, Barry and the whole of South Wales would need to be evacuated.

"It would be an environmental disaster," he said. "Is this place protected from something like that happening?"

Keith believes that rather than nuclear power, the money should be spent developing tidal lagoons to channel wind and wave power.

"The money it is going to cost, you can easily provide clean energy with lagoons," he said. "We should be leading the way with this."

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Cymru national secretary Jill Gough also spoke on the issue saying: "Radionucleides know no boundaries. Hinkley Point is 14 miles from Barry. Any leak or accident at Hinkley would mean that thousands of families might have to flee their homes, farmland would be made worthless for generations and the Welsh economy would be in tatters.

"As the effects of Fukushima are slowly revealed, it becomes clearer that whatever the questions we’re asking, then nuclear is not the answer."

EDF said the Hinkley Point site was chosen because of its proximity to existing nuclear power stations and the National Grid's electricity transmission system. The company also said the site was protected from coastal flooding by the height of the land and is situated mainly outside designated areas of ecological importance.