The Blackwater Estuary is home to Bradwell nuclear power station, one of the UK’s first generation of nuclear power stations (which is now partially decommissioned); construction started in 1957 and it first generated electricity in 1962. It sits by the side of the Blackwater Estuary which has been subjected to Fuel Element Debris (FED) effluent being deposited into it. Furthermore, the site is set to become a regional nuclear waste store for Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) from Dungeness and Sizewell, and as of last year China General Nuclear Power Group and China National Nuclear Corporation are considering Bradwell for the site of a new nuclear power station. In the face of this there is a group in the area who campaign against it, the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG).
Not only does the landscape around the Blackwater Estuary speak of the UK’s nuclear legacy it is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest; home to St. Peter-on-the-Wall, Britain’s 19th oldest building; and the Othona Community, an off-grid community established in 1946. Othona produce 75% of their own electricity, have built their own reed bed sewerage system and are an open and inclusive community rooted in the Christian tradition. The estuary’s coastline is also the site of a former World War II airfield and from its mouth one can see the London Array, the world's largest off-shore wind farm.
The area can be seen as a microcosm of complex issues around history, heritage, ecology and the geo-politics of energy production, consumption and subsequent ‘disposal’.