Save the Severn Estuary

by Cian Ciaran

Save the Severn Estuary

by Cian Ciaran
Cian Ciaran
Case Owner
We campaigned against the dump at Cardiff grounds in 2018. Took EDF to court and won the argument last time out. They move to Portishead, we go again! Stop using our estuary as a dumping ground.
on 27th October 2021
pledged of £60,000 stretch target from 1543 pledges
Cian Ciaran
Case Owner
We campaigned against the dump at Cardiff grounds in 2018. Took EDF to court and won the argument last time out. They move to Portishead, we go again! Stop using our estuary as a dumping ground.

Latest: June 30, 2022

New petition launched at the Senedd.

A new Petition in the Senedd claims that Wales is being side-lined when it comes to the health of the Severn Estuary and its coastal communities.

Sign the Petition now:  https://petitions.senedd.…

Read more

Save the Severn Estuary is a non-partisan coalition of scientists, experts, individuals and organisations calling on the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to revoke the license granted to EDF (Électricité de France) which allows for the dumping of sediment contaminated by the Hinkley nuclear power stations in the Severn Estuary near Portishead. This is a consequence of building a water intake for the new power station which in itself will kill millions of fish when operational.

The estuary is an internationally designated Marine Protected Area and the dumped materials, including chemical and radioactive contaminants, will spread on the strong tidal currents all around the Estuary, depositing on its mud banks and beaches. The MMO must halt the dumping immediately before any further damage is done to the safety and wellbeing of the estuary, its inhabitants and coastal populations of Avonmouth, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff, Barry and beyond.

Already many 100,000s of tonnes have been dumped - with much more still to be dredged and dumped. Given the absence of evidence, a blatant misuse of regulations and lack of any meaningful public consultation the MMO have behaved recklessly, treating fishing and ecological interests with utter contempt. 

If you can, please also make a donation towards the costs of legal action we are taking. We have set up a company for this purpose in order to make the fundraising easier. We are represented by Leigh Day, and the legal case seeks the quashing of EDF’s license.


In order to proceed with a judicial review against the MMO, we are aiming to raise £60,000 to cover all of the costs associated with the legal action. We need your support: please contribute and share this page now!


Thank you so much for your time and continued support.



In Solidarity,

Cian Ciarán

on behalf of 'Save the Severn Estuary'

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Update 10

Cian Ciaran

June 30, 2022

New petition launched at the Senedd.

A new Petition in the Senedd claims that Wales is being side-lined when it comes to the health of the Severn Estuary and its coastal communities.

Sign the Petition now:

Welsh campaigners have launched a petition calling on the Welsh Government to urgently approach Westminster over English regulators blatantly disregarding the Marine Protected Area (MPA) status of the Severn Estuary.

"Wales is being left out of the debate about the well-being of the Severn Estuary's ecology and coastal communities. More horrors are being planned on top of EDF's dredge and dump campaigns in 2018 and 2021."


Hinkley Point C nuclear power station (currently under construction by French and Chinese companies) has been given planning permission to tunnel under the Severn Estuary to obtain massive quantities of water for cooling the reactors. This was on the basis that sonic Acoustic Fish Deterrents (AFD) were installed to reduce the number of fish being sucked in. However, the builders have applied to have this protection removed. Following a Public Inquiry, a decision is awaited from the UK Secretary of State. If the AFD is removed then an estimated ½ million fish will be killed each day of its 60yr life.


The Estuary is an internationally important fish nursery and Marine Protection Area. Stewardship is shared between Welsh and English authorities so the Welsh Government must press England’s regulators to comply. The MPA was jointly designated in 2018 under the international OSPAR Commission, which represents 15 nations. The Welsh National Marine Plan (NMP) seeks to protect fish and to prevent further dumping of capital dredgings on the Welsh side of the Estuary. ["capital dredgings" means material other than what is dredged to maintain shipping channels.]


The petition calls on the Welsh Government to challenge George Eustice to insist that England’s regulators uphold the MPA status of the Severn Estuary and adhere to jointly agreed policies. These common policies should include the no-harm principle as in the Welsh National Marine Plan and prevent further damage to this internationally important habitat.


In March this year Welsh campaigners raised £60,000 from over 1,400 backers to obtain a Judicial Review to stop EDF dumping millions of tonnes of mud and sediment contaminated by decades of discharges from the Hinkley nuclear power stations. However, despite a sound and well-presented case, EDF were allowed to continue. 


A spokesperson said ” Welsh interests are being side-lined. Planning permission should never have been given. Sea-water cooling is out-moded and land based options are available in this case. This view was endorsed by Jane Davidson's Hinkley Stakeholder Group, which reported to First Minister Drakeford in 2020. It is clear that the damage being done to the ecology of the Severn Estuary is short sighted vandalism.”


Save The Severn, an independent, science-led campaign group,

Our website is

The Petition is at


Update 9

Cian Ciaran

May 8, 2022

A Huge Thank You

A huge thank you to all of you who donated to the Judicial Review of EDF's plan to dump sediment from the Hinkley nuclear power stations into the Severn estuary. Over 1,400 people backed the legal case and we raised close to £60k for legal costs. We engaged top environmental lawyers Leigh Day but despite a well fought case EDF can restart dumping. We also acknowledge the Aarhus convention, without which we would not have got costs protection and it would have been too expensive for us to bring about the judicial review.


We challenged the MMO’s failure to look after the marine protection area in view of the horrific scale of fish slaughter the seawater cooling system will cause. This violates a designated Marine Protected Area (MPA) and must be stopped. The Severn Estuary is supposed to have the highest level of international marine protection, yet England’s Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has in effect exempted the French nuclear company from respecting the MPA. However, the court did clarify that a variation still has to relate to the original project, so the MMO’s direction is not completely open ended as the MMO originally argued. Therefore, our legal action will mean closer scrutiny of other variation applications that come forward. The court also confirmed that important environmental protections derived from EU law (i.e. water and waste directives) still apply and the scope of those protections were importantly clarified.


“The verdict means the principle of not dumping in a marine protected area has been downplayed if not totally disregarded. It would appear that there are no limits on stretching licensing law if Westminster sees a nuclear power station as "nationally important". This appears intended to justify bending the law in favour of EDF's nuclear power station. The MMO falsely spun us as anti-nuclear, claiming that we would delay the project, whereas we say delay could have been avoided by taking the dredged material ashore and separating it into sediments and solids in accord with international OSPAR requirements.”


The judge saw our case as obstructing a nuclear plant of huge national importance. He considered radioactivity in the sediments, although this was not an issue before him since we had accepted legal advice which recommended excluding it as being too difficult to argue in a case which would be considering regulations rather than basic science.


We were advised that the four grounds on which we did appeal had a real prospect of success individually and cumulatively as they raised matters of wide future importance, especially in relation to the proper scope and limits of the MMO’s marine licensing powers in respect of environmental impacts in a Special Area of Conservation. But sadly, the appeals process was beyond us given the uncompromising tone of the Judgement and the tight timescale and additional cost of such an appeal. We must therefore turn to other fronts and move forward from what has been a tough few months of campaigning.


Following the Public Inquiry last June into EDF's plans to remove the Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD), a decision from George Eustice, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is expected soon. This will give new opportunities to highlight the major environmental horrors associated with the massive extraction of seawater for Hinkley C. The cooling water intake is estimated to kill 11 billion fish over its 60 year life:- that’s ½ a million a day in an area that is designated a Marine Protected Area, with Bridgwater Bay being an important fish breeding ground. The Environment Agency must terminate the water abstraction licence and compel EDF to construct a land-based cooling system within a few years.


“The MPA was jointly declared in 2018 by the English and Welsh Governments. The Welsh National Marine Plan says this means no harmful activities but MMO is applying a more permissive standard on the English side of the estuary. They are allowing EDF to dump solid material by pretending it's highly dispersive sediment whereas the majority is non-dispersing solid material.”


This battle to stop the dumping began in Cardiff in 2018, with a widely-supported public campaign gaining support in the Welsh Senedd.  The Welsh Government brushed it off, claiming wrongly that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was not needed. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) subsequently used an unscientific argument to let EDF get away with refusing to examine the sediments for nuclear microparticles. We have many times pointed to UN data which show vast numbers of uranium particles have been, and continue to be, released from all the nuclear power stations on the Severn.


Therefore we are undertaking forensic citizen-science projects to investigate the nuclear pollution that EDF refused to assess. Working closely with independent laboratories such as CRIIRAD in France, this work will provide vital information that can inform future campaigns. 


Way up the Severn Estuary is Oldbury, the site for one of the 8 further nuclear power stations that the UK Government has announced it wants to build.  Working together we will be better informed and better organised as we now regroup and continue to hold the nuclear industry to account."

We invite you to join our mailing list for all future updates and campaigns here.


Diolch / Thank you. 


In solidarity,

Cian Ciaran.

on behalf of Save the Severn.



Update 8

Cian Ciaran

March 4, 2022

Super Furry Animals release emerges in support of the Save The Severn campaign

Press Release: 08:00 GMT 4 March 2022

The first song ever recorded as Super Furry Animals, featuring actor, Rhys Ifans on lead vocals revealed by the band with time-limited, Bandcamp release:

Of No Fixed Identity  

  • Former     lead singer and friend of the band, Ifans, performed the track in     the studio in 1993 before taking the path towards a Hollywood career   

  • Left     in band archives for almost thirty years, the Bandcamp-only,  one-week release emerges in support of the Save The Severn  campaign

Super Furry Animals – Of No Fixed Identity

Time-limited download-only release via Bandcamp

Friday 4 March 2022

A percentage of profits donated to Save The Severn 

The song that started it all for Super Furry Animals and kept under wraps for almost thirty years, Of No Fixed Identity, featuring actor, Rhys Ifans on vocal duties has been surprise released by the band – but it’s only available strictly from Bandcamp and for a very limited time only. 

Drawn from deep within the Furry Archive, where the band hints more riches are to be found, the track is released to support the Save The Severn campaign, aiming to halt the reckless dumping of sediment from the site of discharges from a nuclear power station into a Marine Protected Area      of vital ecological     importance. A percentage of the proceeds will go towards funding the campaign group’s judicial review hearing versus the Marine Management Organisation and energy giant’s EDF

In a brief time before Gruff Rhys took over at the front, Ifans, star of Notting Hill, Harry Potter and latterly Spiderman: No Way Home fronted the emergent Welsh five-piece, shrunk to four on his departure, enjoying early, raucous tours and exploratory recording sessions. Put to tape at the studio of long-term sonic confidant, Gorwel Owen's studio on Ynys Môn in summer 1993, Of No Fixed Identity is the first song ever recorded by the band. 

To download Of No Fixed Identity before it disappears from Bandcamp and all distribution for the foreseeable future visit: from 8am GMT Fri 4 March 2022.

Never revisited after recording, and put to tape at the same time as an early version of the headline-making, 1996 single, The Man Don’t Give A F*ck, the track features numerous trademarks familiar to Furry fans around the world. Combining West-Coast harmony-rich psychedelia, garage rock and swathes of synths, Ifans puts in a commanding performance, with Gruff Rhys and Daf Ieuan’s backing vocals pointing the way to the place that Super Furry Animals eventually exploded from. 

A band statement says: “Our first, ever recorded work is out, in part an exploration of the past and in part a criticism of the present and a future where corporate interests are prioritised ahead of health, wellbeing and the natural world. Please download the track, support the cause and rediscover the considerable singing talents of Mr Rhys Ifans.”

In recent weeks the band’s socials have been increasingly critical of plans to dump nuclear contaminated mud dredged from the site of the Hinkley C nuclear power plant 

Save The Severn’s campaign page, where more than half of the target to meet the scientifically-led coalition’s legal fees, states that the action to dredge and dump half-a-million tonnes of sediment from the nuclear site near to Bristol is reckless, treating fishing and ecological interests with utter contempt. The group points to the controversial and heavily challenged prequel dumping near Cardiff      in 2018, following which an increase in radioactive material has been detected on the coast and not only near Cardiff.     

The Super Furry Animals were and remain the multi-instrumental Huw Bunford, Cian Ciarán, Daf Ieuan, Guto Pryce and Gruff Rhys

Connect with Super Furry Animals at: 





Update 7

Cian Ciaran

Feb. 28, 2022

5 friend challenge!

Time is running out. 

Can you help by sharing this message and video with 5 friends?

Watch here:

For what you're about to see, we're truly sorry.
That we're even in this situation is utterly ludicrous.
But the ramifications of inaction are unimaginable.
We *need* your support.

The Severn Estuary is a designated Marine Protected Area, as it is a highly valuable wildlife area, designated for birds and marine life, and important for fish-rearing.

Thousands of people live around the upper Estuary and use its shores and waters for recreation, yet 100,000 tonnes of mud from near Hinkley nuclear plants was dumped in the Severn Estuary at Cardiff Grounds in 2018.

This happened despite a massive petition, hearings and a Senedd debate. 
The dispersing mud drifted downstream to Barry Island and other popular beaches.

500 000 tonnes of Hinkley mud are now to be dumped at Portishead.
But, while dumped at Portishead, it soon reaches the Newport and Chepstow mudflats, as well as the Avon, Usk, Wye and Rhymney estuaries.

Because of permitted discharges and unpermitted leaks from the Hinkley A and B stations last century, the mud is known to be contaminated. Radioactive microparticles known to have been released from Hinkley Point are invisible to the tests used by government agencies and such particles are known to cause cancers and mutations if they get into humans, animals, marine life and birds.

Help us.
Help us prevent more dumping of radioactive and chemically-contaminated sediment.
Help us stop EDF with a judicial review.
Help us fund that legal action.
Please, donate what you can.

The Severn Estuary is a designated Marine Protected Area. Help us keep it that way. Donate today. 👇🏽…

Thank you for your continued support.

Cian on behlaf of Save the Severn.


Update 6

Cian Ciaran

Feb. 10, 2022

Communities across the Severn are urged to act before it’s too late.

Four Weeks To Save The Severn Estuary.

  • Energy giant, EDF seeks to disregard conservation safeguards, to dump contaminated mud and sediment near to Bristol, risking human health, threatening  protected marine habitats and a treasure of Britain’s natural world

  • Campaign group, Save The Severn win a day in court in March to force EDF to protect the health of communities and ecology of the Severn Estuary.

  • After EDF dumped waste off the coast of Cardiff in 2018, increased radioactivity has been detected on Welsh beaches

Millions of tonnes of contaminated mud and sediment are on their way to the waters and beaches used by local communities, threatening the health of families and animal life due to energy giant EDF choosing to ignore legal safeguards. Campaign group, Save The Severn – an independent and scientifically-led coalition, have secured a day in court aiming to stop the irresponsible dumping of waste into the protected marine environment and the places where children play, dispersing it around the shores and beaches of the Severn.

On Thu 8 March 2022, Save The Severn will meet the strength of the energy firm head on in a Judicial Review hearing, challenging the legality of the licence granted by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), stating that a number of vital procedures haven’t been met and one of the available alternatives to dumping at Portishead has to be adopted. 

In 2018, EDF dumped mud and sediment off the coast of Cardiff against wide and vigorous objection. Looking to avoid any further opposition and negative media attention, the company now looks to Portishead, Bristol as a new, ‘soft touch’ location. 

Elevated levels of Caesium -137 and Americium -241 have been detected on beaches around Cardiff following 2018 dumping.  Save The Severn wants to stop the same mistakes being made again.

With a possible legal bill of £60,000, Save The Severn, are calling for donations upwards of £1 from any individual or family who value the Severn environment and would help safeguard its many fish species and ecology including those affected by the dumping of materials from a nuclear site near their homes, schools and workplaces. Donations, set to exceed £25,000 this week, can be made online at

Save The Severn spokesperson, Cian Ciarán, says: “An energy giant is taking the health, wellbeing and good nature of the people of Bristol and other Severn communities for granted in proceeding with dumping waste materials in sight of Portishead. EDF are pursuing this in the knowledge that the 2018 dump near Cardiff was unlawful, so instead avoid further scrutiny by running to the English side of the Estuary to try and get away with it again. We have to come together as a community as people to protect our valuable Severn and its ecology.” 

“It doesn't matter what I think, what matters is that you believe me, that you believe me when I say that they are taking us and the planet for granted , for short term gain for ulterior motives, they are not doing this to safeguard energy production or an act to combat climate change, this build and the dumping in the estuary as a result is economically and morally unjustifiable in so many  ways, and once more is avoidable, there are alternatives, this is a choice made for convenience and profit,  not out of necessity or consideration for the environment or future generations. It’s political will that is holding us back , systematic neglect will be our undoing.”

The mass relocation of mud and sediment, contaminated from the Hinkley Nuclear Power Stations operations from decades past, will harm the internationally important Estuary ecology, including fish breeding grounds. The activity is in direct contravention of protections afforded to the Severn Estuary Special Area of Conservation and OSPAR Marine Protection Area. 

EDF’s waste dumping activities are connected with the development of a water-cooling system for the new Hinkley C development, a system which has been banned in other countries. By drawing seawater into a 7metre diameter tunnel, billions of fish will be massacred each year.  These include eels, for which the Severn is an internationally important breeding ground. 

For more information about Save The Severn and the case for Judicial Review, visit: 

Update 5

Cian Ciaran

Feb. 4, 2022



We have only 4 weeks to take action. We need volunteers, campaigners, activists and doers to #stopthedump in the Severn Estuary, prevent the mass fish kill & defend this Marine Protected Area for future generations..

Contact us now to see how you can help.

Update 4

Cian Ciaran

Jan. 29, 2022

Court date imminent!

We have been granted permission for judicial review of the licence for dumping almost one million tonnes of mud and sediment in the Severn estuary.

Our umbrella group argues that the granting of a licence, to dump about 540 000 cubic metres (800 000 tonnes) to make way for a water cooling system to be constructed at the nuclear power plant near Bridgwater in Somerset, is unlawful. 

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) changed licence for NNB Generation Company Ltd (HPC) permits the dredged material to be deposited in the Severn Estuary Marine Protection Area near to a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Portbury Wharf Salt Marsh, at the Portishead disposal site.

The dredging and dumping locations both fall within the Severn Estuary Special Area of Conservation and OSPAR Marine Protection Area, the largest coastal estuary in the UK and one of the largest estuaries in Europe. It is internationally important for fish rearing and harbours a wide diversity of significant habitats and species.

The NGO challenges the variation to the dredging licence on the following grounds:

Ground 1 – no power to amend a licence to add an entirely new activity

The MMO attached “disposal-by-dumping” to the existing licence for activities in Bridgwater Bay (constructing the jetty and seawater extraction system, with dredging to enable these). We argue the dumping is a different, new activity in a different location, so needs a separate licence, whereas MMO chose to amend the old one. This lessens the public scrutiny and removes the public inquiry that the local authorities (IFCA and N Somerset CC) asked for.

Ground 2 – no lawful basis for relying on section 72(3)(d) in any event

Section 72(3)(d) provides for licence variation “for any other reason that appears to the authority to be relevant.” We argue against interpreting this clause as carte-blanche for the MMO to do what it likes, rather the clause is limited by context and requires a relevant reason.

Ground 3 – unlawful approach to Habitats Assessment

MMO failed to apply the correct legal tests. The smothering of the seabed by mounding of denser dredgings is adverse to the habitat. The objective is to restore fish species including the Twaite shad and lampreys to favourable condition, not maintain existing condition as MMO stated. It is argued that, as the MMO was unable to (lawfully) exclude adverse effects on features for which the Severn Estuary is designated, they had to follow the 'derogation' procedure. The MMO did not carry out this stage 3 of the Habitats Regulations Assessment, and therefore unlawfully did not assess alternative solutions, including dumping in the Holm Deep site.

Ground 4 – failure to act in accordance with the Waste Framework Directive requirements

Though it's a waste-disposal operation, MMO failed to assess the waste-dumping under Reg.22, which requires them to consider the full range of alternatives – which include using more dispersive sites like Holm Deep or re-using on land as under international policies (London Convention and OSPAR).

Ground 5 – unlawful failure to comply with Water Framework Directive requirements

MMO unlawfully took suitability for disposal at sea for the purposes of the London Convention & Protocol to be equivalent to complying with the Water Framework Directive, yet these are different legal obligations.

The Welsh National Marine Plan accepts no dumping in the Welsh half of the Estuary, but the Welsh authorities failed to press MMO to comply on the English side. As Geiger Bay, we established at Court in 2018 that the Welsh authorities were wrong to licence dumping near Cardiff.  Let’s now compel the MMO to respect the protected status that’s needed for both fish stocks and wildlife. 

The Hinkley report to Wales’s First Minister advised that alternative on-land cooling systems should be used, but the Welsh Government failed to press this on the MMO. Our Court action is hopefully the first step in forcing the MMO to phase out this cooling water system’ to end the mass slaughter of fish sucked in with the seawater.

Please continue to share far and wide!

Cian Ciaran.

Update 3

Cian Ciaran

Jan. 25, 2022

Three key reasons why the Severn Estuary is under threat from EDF.

1. EDF is building Hinkley Point C’s massive seawater cooling system that will kill millions of fish every year. EDF have asked permission to omit the protection of an Acoustic Fish Deterrent system that is required by their current Licence. EDF is trying to claim that this system will be ineffective.

2. The new nuclear power station will suck in 29,000 gallons of seawater and marine life every second, heat it up by 10 degrees and send it back into the estuary, wasting more energy into the environment than all the electrical power Hinkley C will generate. That heat and pressure changes will kill the ecology of the estuary which is already warming up due to climate change. 


3. Over their lifetime Hinkley A and B power stations released radioactive particles which included uranium, and plutonium with a half-life of 24,000 years. Dredging will disturb sediments containing these particles which will then enter the estuary ecosystem/food chain including sea to land transfer through sea-spray and wind.

Update 2

Cian Ciaran

Jan. 25, 2022

Judicial Review - Cardiff - Spring 2022

A Judicial Review will take place in Cardiff, hopefully as early as this Spring. We are aiming to raise £60,000 to cover all of the costs associated with the legal action.

Thank you for your help so far in enabling us to take this legal action, please can you help again by sharing with friends and family? 

See you in court,


Update 1

Cian Ciaran

Oct. 26, 2021

Not long to go!

We have nearly hit the £6000 mark. Can you help us get to £10,000?

A reminder that members of Save the Severn Estuary are taking legal action. The judicial review argues that the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) did not have the legal power to vary an existing licence to allow the dumping. This matters, because if EDF had been required to apply for a new licence, then there would have been greater public scrutiny. The legal case also alleges that the MMO failed to properly assess the impact on certain protected species and breached rules about water quality. 

We still need your help to hit our target of £10,000 with only 11 days to go. Please share this message with friends and family,  only by standing together will we make ourselves heard. 

Thank you!

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