Plans to cut the provision of radiation blocking tablets to residents near an ageing nuclear power plant have been criticised.

Those living within 2.4km of Hunterston B currently receive iodine pills to be taken in the event of an emergency.

But proposals to North Ayrshire Council by the operator, French state-owned EDF Energy, has proposed reducing the Detailed Emergency Planning Zone to 1km radius of the station.

Responsibility for setting the zone has transferred from the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to the local authority.

Alan Hill, councillor for North Coast and Cumbraes, said: “The public have a right to be alarmed at this proposal to reduce the emergency zone around Hunterston at a time when significant degradation of the reactor core has been documented and the ONR has placed special conditions on EDF for continued operation.

“The new planning regime has been brought in, in light of experience from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan.”

The Hunterston Site Stakeholders Group were due to meet on December 5 to scrutinse EDF’s plans to reactivate two reactors.

But the meeting was cancelled due to the general election and will not reconvene until March next year, after the proposed reactivation dates.

A spokeswoman for EDF Energy said: “This updated legislation relates to every nuclear site in the UK and is not specific to Huntertson B.

“The advice given to North Ayrshire, is based on robust information and the minimum distance recommended reflects the advice previously given to the official nuclear regulators. The final decision on the zone rests with the local authority, which will consider this report alongside other local factors.”