DIDN'T WE HAVE A LOVELY TIME THE DAY WE WENT TO MORDOR sorry..DIDCOT......
On Tuesday 2nd August, 2005, those people who had attended the NPower Exhibition in the Village Hall, who had expressed an interest in attending a Site Visit to Didcot set off in anticipation of seeing the inside workings of Didcot Power Station. Perhaps there would be a guided tour of the power station and a look at the new ash benification plant (ash recycling gargantuan that takes the carbon out of the inefficiently burnt coal residues which Didcot produces)
Arriving in good time, the good-natured guards on the gate promised to let the Save Radley Lakes Group back out at the end of the day, as long as they did not take out a camera and try to shoot someone. When the question of Camera Phones came up, the ensuing discussion resulted in several minutes being taken before the conclusion was made that this was not on the list of prohibited items and thus being given Security Passes, the group passed through the barrier into the Realm of Cacophany and Mismanagement.
Once inside, the meeting did not start immediately. The Chief Orc was decidedly edgy. Eventually after waiting a considerable time where everyone sat wondering why there was a delay, he returned to state that four people on his list of visitors had not turned up. He was asked who they were, and on calling out the names, found that the four "missing people" were actually in the room. So, if they can't check people into the site accurately, how can they check the amount of fuel ash going out?
Sadly however, there was to be no guided tour, so we could not see the recycling operation or note places on site on which to store fuel ash, but we did espy a football pitch from the window of the conference room and wondered if that might be converted to hold a PFA Storage Bund. It might focus the minds of the MisManagement if they could see the by-product of their inefficient power station before their very eyes in the Administration Block.
The assembled Company of about twenty people were invited to partake of what was euphemisticlly referred to as refreshments, which did not include the customary danish pastries so beloved of Mr P. Noakes and the NPower Liaison Committee, which are served when the Parish Council and Village are invited to view the Ash Fill Site in May each year. It may be because SRL have cost NPower too much money by delaying their engineering works, and the Corporate Giant is having to tighten his corporate belt to ensure the Shareholders get a better yield next year. Mind you, the vast amount of money being spent in acquiring the stately pile of Sandles must have made a hole in the Corporate Piggy Bank. Wouldn't it be nice if there were questions asked at the Annual General Meeting?
We heard the Chief Orc describe the fact that other Power Stations were in the hands of the Banks because they were failing. He obviously took pride in his commercial enterprise that they were making a mint out of their domestic customer base as well as their "generating income". However, he was unashamed about the continued destruction of the village of Radley. He could see no other option, but then he would say that wouldn't he. His legal people will have advised him that if he admits to having other options, then the Planning People can tell him to take his fuel ash and stuff it where the sun don't shine - preferably down a salt mine in Cheshire where their other Power Station, DRAX, is sending their PFA, with financial assistance from HM Government.
The assembled guests had to endure a party political broadcast on video, which one suspected had been produced with some help from that Spin Doctor Extraordinaire, Alistair Campbell, and in which a rosy picture was painted of an area that had been restored after filling with Fuel Ash. The only trouble was, the area in question was infilled by the old CEGB and had been done to a different standard. The current infilling has no topsoil to cover the ash to enable proper vegetation to regenerate. The area has been engineered with huge clay bunds which meant the ash pits did not drain and solidify and that the site would not be safe for decades. All this did not stop the Corporate Giant's promulgation that Radley had nothing to fear from the proposals to fill Lakes E and F in the same methodology.
The Civil Engineer coldly itemised the measures that would be taken to decimate the area. The Chief Orc tried to persuade the meeting that the infilling of Lakes E and F would only take two years if the Power Station was working at full capacity all the year round. The graphs shown by the Chief Orc showed previously less usage of the power station, and it was even diminishing in the period up to 1990 which was when the Power Station was supposed to be mothballed. This was the plan until NPower took over a realised there was potential to make money from an ageing, filthy power station which consumed vast amounts of coal and spewed out dirt and destruction over a vast area. Where there's muck there's brass, is a Yorkshire maxim, Where there's surplus ash there's bad management is a Save Radley Lakes saying.
The Chief Orc and his team were determined that people around the table would not have their say. Attempts to raise points as they arose through the presentation were met with denials. How can you remember everything you want to raise when you are told to wait to the end? Eventually after we had sat politely and listened to the intentional violations of the truth we were invited to endure another cup of Corporate Coffee. This ate into the "Open Forum" time, which the Chief Orc and his team were determined to hog as much as possible. They did so, with lessons being learned from that Master of the Not Pausing for Breath John Prescott, and only those with the best vocal power were able to make a point or two, or ask a question. If a question was asked, this was an excuse for a re-run of the party political broadcast. "The lights will go out if Didcot doesn't dump its fuel ash in Radley."
The NPower Environment Officer decided to sneak out of the meeting at 4.30.pm. thinking no one would notice. and of course, he was not there to answer a question raised by one of the public who had taken the time to visit Mordor.
The Chief Orc wriggled and obfuscated when asked how much the lastest Radley Ash Fill would cost NPower. Perhaps the Shareholders haven't found out yet how they might lose with the Management, or shall we call them the MisManagement Team which reckons they have no other alternative than to destroy the finest wildlife site in the whole of the Country so that they can continue to run a flexible, low cost coal, power station using their asset management skills to extract maximum value. - Quoted from their Website. This is the crux of the matter. All other options cost them more money than the current fuel ash disposal system at Radley.
Save Radley Lakes asked Npower to donate the lakes to the Public to make a wildlife educational centre and wondered why the one at Sutton Courtenay had been hailed as such a success in 2002 when NPower were busy destroying a vast area of bio-diverse landscape and the habitat of thousands of migratory waterfowl.
People keep asking us why BBowt aren't taking up the cudgels on our behalf. If someone out there knows the reason, please let us know. We'd like to be put in the picture!
When we arrived, the reception area was beautifully lit with numerous ceiling lamps (they might have been low energy) but it was obvious on a bright sunny day that the lights were not needed and they were still burning after office staff had left for the day when our party left the meeting., without a look round the plant. So, the message there is, that Didcot don't care about wasting electricity and they don't care about wasting the landscape with the resultant fuel ash.
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