A Fascinating Tour of the Nuclear Plants That Dot the English Countryside

Mark Byrnes, The Atlantic Cities
Oct. 18, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

Nuc­le­ar en­ergy is es­sen­tial to the United King­dom — in 2012, it ac­coun­ted for nearly a fifth of the na­tion’s elec­tri­city (down from a high of 26 per­cent in 1997). But the plants that sup­ply much of that power are slowly be­ing phased out.

The UK’s first com­mer­cial nuc­le­ar power plant came on­line in 1956 (it closed in 2003); oth­ers soon fol­lowed. There are nine cur­rently in op­er­a­tion, all but one have been used since the 1980s. Three were ‘born’ in the 70s. 

The coun­try is look­ing to build new, privat­ized fa­cil­it­ies; and it’ll likely rely on in­vestors from coun­tries like China to foot part of the bill. Ac­cord­ing to the BBC, a new $22.5 bil­lion fa­cil­ity could be an­nounced as soon as next week, the first new plant built in the UK since 1995.

Re­u­ters pho­to­graph­er Su­z­anne Plun­kett traveled across Bri­tain to find the cur­rent nuc­le­ar plants, shoot­ing each one. The res­ults of­fer a fas­cin­at­ing glimpse at how these massive fa­cil­it­ies, of­ten devoid of any ar­chi­tec­tur­al per­son­al­ity, fit onto a land­scape of rolling hills, quiet beaches, graz­ing an­im­als, and charm­ing homes.

See the pho­tos here.

Re­prin­ted with per­mis­sion from the At­lantic Cit­ies. The ori­gin­al story can be found here.

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