Six people were arrested during a mass trespass at the site of the proposed Hinkley C nuclear power station as campaigners dodged security staff and police to scale barbed wire-topped fencing.
More than 50 people from an alliance of anti-nuclear organisations were determined to breach the barrier to plant symbolic wildflower seeds on land they believe is being desecrated. A dozen succeeded.
Hinkley Point is the proposed site of the first of the new generation of nuclear power plants the Government and developer EDF Energy say are necessary to provide a mix of low-carbon energy for Britain’s future needs.
But campaigners, who started their protest before dawn, say nuclear is too dangerous and want the land, which is still fields, returned to “the people”.
Dozens fanned out around the five-mile-long fence while others held banners and placards outside the main security gate. A 14ft banner reading, “Nuclear disaster zone. Boycott EDF” was hung across the gate. One woman campaigner held a candlelit vigil.
By 11am, the protesters had thrown 577 seed balls over the fence, representing the number of days since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
Campaigners said the mood was “relaxed and celebratory”. Camilla Berens, spokesperson for the Stop New Nuclear Alliance, said: “This is a major victory for the anti-nuclear movement because the Government has refused to listen to us and we have been forced to raise the game.
“We have successfully blockaded the main entrance to Hinkley Point on two occasions in the past year and now we have accomplished a mass trespass. Our message today is that we will continue to raise the game with peaceful protest until our voice is heard.”
Speaking from inside the site, Ray Davis, CND Cymru vice chair, said: “Hinkley Point is 12 miles from Barry and only 19 miles from Cardiff. Any leak or accident at Hinkley would be disastrous for South Wales and beyond. We are determined to stop this happening, but this is peaceful.”
It is understood that some of the arrests were on suspicion of causing criminal damage.
Nigel Cann, C Site construction director for EDF, said: “We are disappointed that a small minority of those who have travelled here today have chosen to ignore the arrangements made to facilitate a peaceful and lawful protest.”
He added that protesters had not been able to access any sensitive areas, which are protected by a “multi-layered security regime”, and added it had been “business as usual” on the C site and they had been able to bring in workers and equipment needed at the B station.
STOP HINKLEY PROTEST - WEEKEND COVERAGE