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13 November 2014

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You are in: Gloucestershire > History > Points West Archive Films > Berkeley: 1989

Berkeley Power Station

Berkeley Power Station

Berkeley: 1989

Berkeley was the UK's first commercial nuclear power station and in many respects set the standard for nuclear power generation. It was also the first station to be decommissioned. BBC Points West reported on local reaction to its closure.

In its 27 years, the Berkeley power station produced enough power in a single day to serve an area as large as Bristol, but by March 1989 it had reached the end of its useful life and the reactors were shut down.

When it was announced that Berkeley was to close, there was a mixed reaction from the local community.

Berkeley Power Station reactor rooms

Berkeley Power Station reactor rooms

Traders said they were fearful of a decline in custom, while others thought the actual decommissioning process would create enough local jobs.

Some residents took quite a philosophical approach to the news, suggesting that if the power station had reached the end of its useful life then of course the reactors should be dismantled.

There were also concerns expressed about safety – the announcement was made three years after the Chernobyl disaster, which in April 1986 saw almost an entire nation of people affected by radioactive fallout following an explosion at the power plant in Ukraine, then a part of the USSR.


The ongoing decommissioning process ultimately has the aim of returning the site to green fields but, in Ian Cameron's 1989 report, some were sure the need to investigate the effect of nuclear power on the area would remain.

For them, the closure of Berkeley meant little in terms of resolving safety concerns and health worries.

However, others seemed less concerned, one resident joking that they were supposed to "glow in the dark", but of course in reality, that wasn't the case!

With the proximately of Berkeley Power Station to local homes, it was thought that house prices might suffer, although at least one estate agent in the town seemed confident that falling property values were never a real problem.

Berkeley trader in 1989

Berkeley trader in 1989


However, the power station was also a cause for concern from campaigners worried about the connection between Berkeley power station and the rise of childhood cancer in the area – and in particular over on the other side of the Severn at Lydney.

The campaigners, although pleased to see the reactors dismantled, were still demanding that the link between nuclear power and illness be investigated.

This particular BBC Points West report concluded that in reality the announcement of the closure of Berkeley Power Station would not make a great deal of difference to the lives of local people and it would be several years before they noticed any real changes.

last updated: 21/01/2009 at 13:28
created: 25/11/2005

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